Streams

Jim O'Grady

Jim O'Grady appears in the following:

With A Line Service Restored, NYC Subway Is Whole Again

Thursday, May 30, 2013

WNYC

The A train is back in the Rockaways after Storm Sandy knocked it out for seven months. With its return, the last empty space on the subway map has been restored, post-flood.

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More Moms Than Ever Earn More Than Dad

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WNYC

A new Pew study found that a record 40 percent of households with children are relying on mom to be the breadwinner. That's up from 11 percent in 1960. The study says the change is being driven by more women in the workplace.

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Bernie Kerik, Disgraced Ex-Commish, Leaves Prison

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

WNYC

Bernard Kerik arrived home Tuesday in Franklin Lakes, N.J., after serving a three-year stint in a Maryland prison.

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The Jersey Shore On Memorial Day: Scarred But Open For Business

Sunday, May 26, 2013

WNYC

This Memorial Day weekend is when many beach-goers have been getting their first glimpses of the Jersey Shore since Sandy. In Asbury Park, it's a mixed scene: boarded-up shops next to bustling restaurants serving brunch crowds under umbrellas in the sun. (See slide show below.)

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Lack Of Investment By CT Makes It Harder To Recover From Derailment

Monday, May 20, 2013

WNYC

The state of Connecticut has been scrambling for a decade to make up for years of failing to invest in Metro-North Railroad. That's part of why the railroad has been finding it so hard to get service up and running on the New Haven Line after Friday's derailment.

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After Sandy, Homeowner Asks What Next?

Friday, May 17, 2013

WNYC

VIDEO. The latest on Stephen Drimalas, the Staten Islander in Ocean Breeze whose ups and downs we've been following since Sandy swamped his home, nearly drove him from New York, and left him wondering about his future.

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New York's MTA Takes First Steps Toward Hardening Subway Against Future Storms

Thursday, May 16, 2013

WNYC

Here's part of the MTA's problem in post-Sandy world: six subway stations are located in the Lower Manhattan flood zone, and those stations have 540 openings -- manholes, stairways, elevators, hatches and vents -- that could allow water to flow underground. As the authority prepares for future storms, it needs to figure out how to secure each one of those openings.

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Driving Is Dropping In The U.S.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

WNYC

America's "driving boom" is over. So says a study by U.S. Public Interest Group, which found that after six decades of steady increases in drivership, the trend has reversed.

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Coders Hunker In Brooklyn Bunker To Come Up With The Next Great MTA App

Sunday, May 05, 2013

WNYC

UPDATE May 6: 05 p.m.: See below for a bit more detail on the winners with links.

About 300 software developers spent the weekend together in a large room on the NYU-Polytechnic campus in downtown Brooklyn, all competing for three prizes in an MTA app contest.

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In Staten Island, a Post-Sandy Rumor Mill

Friday, May 03, 2013

WNYC

The information that owners of Sandy-damaged homes need to make decisions is at least a month from being released. As they wait, the rumors circulate.

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NYC Subway Delays Up Last Year, Even Before Sandy

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

WNYC

Storm Sandy caused an almost 30 percent increase in subway delays during the first three months of 2013. That expected finding comes from a Straphangers Campaign study of electronic alerts by the New York MTA. But the study also found that the problems weren't just storm-related: subway delays were up by 10 percent last year in the ten months before Sandy.

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MAP: Where the (Subway) Wi-Fi Is

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wi-Fi and cell phone service is now available at thirty-six New York City subway stations. Where, you ask? Read on.

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NY MTA Ponders How To Spend An Extra $40 Million

Monday, April 22, 2013

WNYC

The NY MTA is deciding all the time how to spend the discretionary part of its budget. But rarely is that budget unexpectedly enriched by an extra $40 million, which occurred last month when Albany bestowed that much more than requested in state funds. Now the debate begins on how to spend it.

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Poll: Most NY Metro Residents Like Where They Live, But Worry About Climate Change

Thursday, April 18, 2013

WNYC

Optimism is up in the New York Metropolitan region, led by a surge of good feelings among New York City residents. That's according to a new poll by the Regional Plan Association, which also found that worry is on the rise over climate change and severe weather threats.

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After Boston, NY and NJ Transit On Heightened Alert

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WNYC

In the wake of the Boston bombings, transit systems around New York and New Jersey are beefing up security.   It's part reassurance, part having "more eyes and ears -- and in the case of police dogs -- noses out there," says an MTA spokesman.

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Transport Workers, Needing to Bargain With NY MTA Chair Prendergast, Open With Praise

Friday, April 12, 2013

Now that the NY MTA has a new chairman in Tom Prendergast, and Local Transport Workers Union 100 has a recently re-elected president in John Samuelsen, the two sides can now sit down hammer out a contract.

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Quinn's Transit Vision: Long on Buses, Ferries, Short on Bike Share

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn gave voters their first detailed glimpse into what her transportation agenda would be if she's elected Mayor. It's like Bloomberg's -- but without the big, bold visions.

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Feds Set Uniform Standards For Sandy Rebuilding

Thursday, April 04, 2013

U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came to the Meadowlands of NJ to announce new post-Sandy rebuilding regulations. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) Build higher. That's what the federal government is saying to the owners of structures badly damaged by Sandy. Northeast flood zones now have tougher re-building requirements that apply across the board: to houses, businesses and government infrastructure.

Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stood in front of an Amtrak electrical station in a New Jersey swamp to make their point: any structure more than half destroyed by Sandy that is being rebuilt with federal funds, must be lifted higher than before. The new standards require a building owner to consult an updated FEMA flood map, find the new recommended height for his structure and then lift it a foot above that.

LaHood explained why: "So that people don't have to go through the same heartache and headache and backache that it's taken to rebuild."

LaHood says the Amtrak electrical plant, which was knocked out by Sandy, will be lifted several feet at a cost of $25 million. A statement from the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force has details on the new standards:

WASHINGTON – Today, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force announced that all Sandy-related rebuilding projects funded by the supplemental spending bill must meet a single uniform flood risk reduction standard. The standard, which is informed by the best science and best practices including assessments taken following Hurricane Sandy and brings the federal standard into alignment with many state and local standards already in place, takes into account the increased risk the region is facing from extreme weather events, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change and applies to the rebuilding of structures that were substantially damaged and will be repaired or rebuilt with federal funding. As a result, the new standard will require residential, commercial, or infrastructure projects that are applying for federal dollars to account for increased flood risk resulting from a variety of factors by elevating or otherwise flood-proofing to one foot above the elevation recommended by the most recent available federal flood guidance.

 This is the same standard that many communities in the region, including the entire state of New Jersey, have already adopted – meaning federally funded rebuilding projects in the impacted region often already must comply with this standard.  In fact, some communities require rebuilding higher than this minimum standard and if they do so, that stricter standard would supersede this standard as the minimum requirement.

 “Communities across the region are taking steps to address the risks posed by climate change and the Federal Government needs to be a partner in that effort by setting a single clear standard for how federal funds will be used in rebuilding,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, who also chairs the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. “Providing this guaranteed minimum level of protection will help us safeguard our investment and, more importantly, will help communities ensure they are better able to withstand future storms.”

 “President Obama has called on us to invest in our nation’s infrastructure—and that includes ensuring that our transit systems, roads, rails and bridges are built to last,” said Transportation Secretary LaHood, who joined Secretary Donovan in making the announcement in New Jersey today. “The flood risk reduction standard is a common sense guideline that will save money over the long-term and ensure that our transportation systems are more resilient for the future.”

 Today’s announcement does not retroactively affect federal aid that has previously been given to property owners and communities in the Sandy-impacted areas.  It also does not impact insurance rates under the National Flood Insurance Program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Moving forward the federal standard applies to substantial rebuilding projects (i.e. when damage exceeds 50 percent of the value of the structure) that will rely on federal funding.

 The specific steps that these types of structures will need to take include:

  • Elevating – the standard would require structures to elevate their bottom floor one foot higher than the most recent flood risk guidance provided by FEMA; and/or
  • Flood-proofing – in situations where elevation is not possible, the standard will require structures to prepare for flooding a foot higher than the most recent flood risk guidance provided by FEMA – for example, by relocating or sealing boilers or other utilities located below the standard elevation

These additional steps are intended to protect communities from future risk and to protect taxpayer investments over the long term. 

The programs which received funding in the supplemental bill and will be impacted by this standard include:

-          HUD: Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program

-          HHS: Construction and reconstruction projects funded by Social Services Block Grants and Head Start

-          FEMA: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Public Assistance Program

-          EPA: The State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs

-          DOT: Federal Transit Administration's Emergency Relief Program, as well as some Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Highway Administration projects

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WTC's Cloud-High Observation Deck Is Coming Back

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

WNYC

New York's window on the world is on its way to reopening. The Port of Authority of New York and New Jersey allowed reporters to take three elevators to the 100th floor of One World Trade Center and get a preview of the building's observation deck.

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Subway Sea Wall Of Steel Rising Between A Train And Jamaica Bay

Monday, April 01, 2013

Pile driver installs a section of steel wall between A train tracks in the foreground and Jamaica Bay behind. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York is Holland now: the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building a wall to keep out the sea along a two-mile stretch of the A subway line on its way to the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. The wall is made of thick steel and runs along the eastern side the tracks on the island of Broad Channel, in the middle of Jamaica Bay.

The $38 million project is the MTA's first big step since Sandy to prevent flooding from future storm surges.

To make sure the wall is strong enough to hold off another flood, workers are pounding each section about 30 feet into the ground. In the end, the wall will rise only seven feet above the rails, two feet above Sandy's height. The MTA thinks that's high enough.

On a recent windy afternoon, Contractor Mitch Levine was watching workers pile drive and weld each section into place. He said the wall is designed to withstand salt water. "This steel is special steel," he said. "It's marine steel, which will stop it from eroding over the course of 100 years."

Keeping the hungry waves at bay

NY MTA program manager Raymond Wong said the wall is supposed to prevent future storm surges from doing what Sandy did in this area, which was rip the embankment right out from under 400 feet of track.

"The tracks were hanging in the air," he said.

For three weeks after Sandy, each tide took another bite from a larger section of the embankment--until the NY MTA rebuilt the shore by dumping tons of stone and concrete next to the tracks. But this stretch of the A train across Jamaica Bay is still not in service. Thousands of riders now cram into crowded shuttle buses and face rush hour commutes that can end after midnight.

The wall will also serve a second purpose: keeping debris off the line. Forty-eight boats came to rest on the tracks after Sandy, along with jet skis, docks and fuel tanks. The clean up alone took three months.

Why a wall?

NY MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said engineers chose a steel wall to protect the A train because, "It could meet strength requirements as well as timing requirements--we wanted to make sure the wall would be in place by May 1." The line is scheduled to return to full service by summer.

Although Jamaica Bay is part of Gateway National Park, Ortiz said the wall didn't need to go through "any type of approval process" because it's within the right-of-way of the tracks, which is controlled by NYC Transit. Ortiz said the NY MTA did consult with the National Park Service and Army Corps of Engineers about the plan.

At the Broad Channel station replacing signals and thousands of feet of cable and other components. (Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Kevin Ortiz)

Bringing the power back

The MTA is taking a much more short term approach to repairing the A train's damaged electrical system. A mile away from Broad Channel, a control house sits in the railyard at the end of the line in Rockaway Park. Inside, Wong showed off rooms stuffed with equipment that looked modern in the 1950s, when it was installed. One panel has thousands of fuses, each with its own hand-lettered tag. Sandy turned these rooms into temporary aquariums.

"Everything was just coated in salt water that undermined the copper," Wong said. "When we came here, this whole thing was a big block of rust."

Electricity is vital to the subway. It powers signals that keep the trains apart, and switches that move those trains down the right track. There's also lighting at stations, public address systems, and power to the third rail to move the trains--the list goes on.

So what is the MTA doing to protect the electrical equipment at low-lying sites from future storms? "We're just trying to get up and running over here," Wong said. "There's really not much you can do."

Wong said, ideally, the MTA will lift the control house 10 feet in the air, rip out the old components and computerize the system. But that's millions of dollars and years away. His goal right now is to get the A train back by summer, however he can.

Click here for more photos of restoration work on the A line.

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