Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

Tappan Zee Bridge Gets Expedited Approval, But Construction May Not Start for Years

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by Joseph A. via Flickr)

UPDATED The White House announced Tuesday that it will expedite permitting and environmental reviews for a new Tappan Zee Bridge, potentially the largest infrastructure job-creator in the U.S.

The White House also expedited the permitting and review processes for 13 other infrastructure projects, including new rail lines in Baltimore and Los Angeles, a housing project in Denver, and a wind power facility in Vermont.

The Tappan Zee Bridge connects New York's Rockland and Westchester Counties, and 135,000 vehicles cross it each weekday. It's over 55 years old and is in constant need of major and costly repairs.

An expedited federal review is supposed to move construction along faster by coordinating the permitting process. But the final bridge design has yet to be announced, and the White House says "the project is an ambitious one and construction will not begin for several years."

The Tappan Zee Bridge currently has no special transit capacity.  Initial plans included rail lines and bus rapid transit, but the future of transit on the bridge is unclear.

Five options for a new span are currently under review, including a "no build" alternative. Several of the options include bus rapid transit. Rail capacity looks unlikely, although it could be added later.

The Tappan Zee redesign started out as a joint project between the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York State Thruway, but is now being  The MTA's name was absent from the press release issued by Governor Cuomo today, and no MTA officials attended his two publicly stated meetings about the bridge (8/4/11, 5/20/11).

According to DOT officials, the project has been scaled back from its initial vision. Initially part of  30-mile long transportation corridor with costs potentially exceeding $21 billion, sources say the project has been re-scoped to focus solely on the bridge.  It's currently estimated to cost $5.2 billion.

The cost of running a rail line over a new Tappan Zee Bridge had been estimated to cost $6.7 billion.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo heralded the White House announcement in a press release today, saying "the Tappan Zee project has the potential to generate more jobs than any other infrastructure project in the nation."

The DOT said the bridge "will deliver at least 33,000 job years through the duration of construction activities." But just when hiring will begin is unknown. There is no timeline for construction available yet, but the DOT said New York hopes to begin bidding the project out in August of 2012.

The governor said the bridge has an accident rate double the rest of the New York Thruway system, and also has serious vulnerabilities to extreme events such as severe storms, ship collision and earthquakes. And keeping it in good condition is both costly and unending: according to a February 2011 Wall Street Journal article, the state spent $146.8 million over the last five years on repairs, and has budgeted $148.8 million between 2010 and 2012 just to fix the Tappan Zee's deck.

The DOT said the state has indicated financing for the new bridge will primarily comes from issuing bonds secured through toll revenues. A detailed funding plan was not available. Calls to Governor Cuomo's office today were not returned.









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Snapshot | Autumn on Columbus Avenue

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

PHOTO. Autumn comes to a bike lane pedestrian island at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and 82nd Street. 

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TN MOVING STORIES: Senate Dems Tweak Infrastructure Proposal; Cuomo Wants Speedy Federal Approval for New Tappan Zee Bridge

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top stores on TN:

The ARC tunnel dispute fueled rancor between NJ Governor Christie and the Obama Administration. (Link)

GM signs car share agreement. (Link)

LIRR train (photo by Adam E. Moreira via Wikimedia Commons)

One New York politician wants the Long Island Rail Road to institute a bill of rights for passengers. (WNYC)

Jobs bill update: a procedural vote will come tonight. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are working on a Plan B: merge a corporate repatriation tax holiday to an infrastructure bank proposal. (Politico)

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants speedy federal approval for a new Tappan Zee bridge. (Capitol Confidential)

Maryland leaders debate applying sales tax to gas purchases to boost funds for that state's infrastructure. (AP via Washington Post)

The future of Ann Arbor's transit system could include streetcars or monorail. (

The NYC subway map did away with Charlton Street. (New York Times)

A project aimed at untangling an Amtrak, Metra, and freight train logjam broke ground yesterday on Chicago’s South Side. (WBEZ)

Should California allow hybrids with no passengers back into the carpool lane? Research says yes. (KQED)

Outgoing NY MTA head Jay Walder toured the top of the Verrazano Bridge. (NY Post)

How to store your bike in your apartment? Turn it into a bookshelf. (Apartment Therapy)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Purple Line Gets Green Light, Manhattan Gas Stations on the Wane, and Paul McCartney Marries MTA Board Member Nancy Shevell

Monday, October 10, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Accident investigations: what happens during Houston highway shutdowns. (Link)

Montana rolls out a statewide program to crack down on drunk drivers. (Link)

A Manhattan gas station (photo by Kate Hinds)


Maryland gets the green light to continue planning for the Purple Line --  a 16-mile light rail line that would link two Metro lines, connect all three MARC commuter rail lines, and link to Amtrak and local bus services. (WAMU)

NY's MTA will run less trains on "minor holidays," which it says will save the agency $200,000 a year. (New York Post)

There are 17 fewer gas stations in Manhattan today than there were two years ago. (Crain's New York)

NY MTA board member Nancy Shevell married Paul McCartney. (ABC News)

Bus ridership in Sioux Falls is up -- and the mayor says it's due, in part, to big city transplants. "They are used to using public transit. It is the wave of the future. We are still a city and state that loves our trucks and cars, but reality is setting in," he said. "Public transportation is going to be a central need for our future." (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

Los Angeles traffic policy turns some side streets into pedestrian nightmares. (Los Angeles Times)

Chicago Tribune op-ed: absenteeism is the reason your buses are late.

This week in the New York Times Complaint Box: electric delivery bikes.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Delays And Funding Issues Could Hurt FAA's NextGen System; Atlanta Rail Line Scaled Back -- For Roads

Friday, October 07, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Obama touts his jobs bill, lifts up infrastructure repair: "Why would you vote against that?" (Link)

NY and NJ drivers are both terrible, a car expert asserts. In fact, most states are full of bad drivers. (Link)

Boise launched a car sharing program. (Link)

Maryland schools seek to improve pedestrian safety. (Link)

A bicycle paramedic in London (photo via Firegeezer)

Delays -- and budget cutbacks -- may plague implementation of the FAA's NextGen system. (Washington Post)

China says human error was behind last week's subway crash in Shanghai. (Los Angeles Times)

A project that could have built a county-crossing rail line in Atlanta may be scaled back--with the money going to road construction projects instead. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on President Obama's infrastructure bank proposal. (The Hill)

The chairwoman of the Texas Transportation Committee resigned so she could devote herself to Rick Perry's presidential campaign. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

An I.M. Pei-designed terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport is being demolished. (New York Times)

Car talk: the near-collapse of the American auto industry in 2008 will be discussed on this morning's Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC)

Cambridge, U.K., is piloting a bicycle paramedic program. (BBC)

An Australian dance company is in Minneapolis to perform "Structure and Sadness," a work inspired by a bridge disaster 40 years ago in Melbourne. (MPR)

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Obama on Infrastructure Repair: "Why Would You Vote Against That?"

Thursday, October 06, 2011

 President Barack Obama during a news conference in the East Room of the White House (photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Obama, who's trying to line up support for his jobs bill, used his press conference today to once again invoke crumbling infrastructure and unemployed construction workers.

His remarks were in the same vein as the speech he delivered last month in front of an "obsolete" bridge. Here are some highlights:

"In Maine, there is a bridge that is in such bad shape that pieces of it were literally falling off the other day.  And, meanwhile, we’ve got millions of laid-off construction workers who could right now be busy rebuilding roads, rebuilding bridges, rebluiding schools.  This jobs bill gives them a chance to get back to work rebuilding America.  Why wouldn’t we want that to happen?  Why would you vote against that?"

He went on to chastise Republicans: "My understanding is that for the last decade, they’ve been saying we need to lower taxes for folks.  Well, why wouldn’t we want to do that through this jobs bill?  We know that we’ve got roads and bridges and schools that need to be rebuilt.  And historically, Republicans haven’t been opposed to rebuilding roads and bridges.  Why would you be opposed now?"

But he admitted that the challenges facing the country and its aging infrastructure won't be solved overnight, even if the Senate passes the American Jobs Act.

"I mean, what’s contained in the American jobs bill doesn’t cover all the roads and bridges and infrastructure that needs to be improved around the country.

You can read the full transcript of the president's remarks here.



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NY: NJ Drivers Are Terrible; NJ: No, You Are; Expert: You're Both Bad

Thursday, October 06, 2011

(photo by Elizabeth Thomsen via Flickr)

The Brian Lehrer Show kicked off their month-long series about driving today. This week's installment: the differences between New York and New Jersey drivers--and which flavor is worse. But the guest, Michelle Krebs of Edmunds and, debunked the premise right away.

"Most states are full of really bad drivers," she said.  "Part of it is because we never go back and take driving lessons again, (and) it's really important because the technology changes."

Some callers wanted to expand the conversation beyond the two states. For example, Jordan in Mamaroneck "learned to drive a stick shift on Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn." He continued: "I can tell you from regular experience...the scariest license plate on the road is not New York or New Jersey, it's Connecticut."

To hear how local drivers are stymied by highway turning lanes called jughandles, making a right turn on red, and undertaking a maneuver known as "the Jersey Left," listen to the segment below.


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TN MOVING STORIES: NYC Closer to Completing Manhattan Greenway, Buffalo's Main Street Wants Cars Back

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The outgoing head of the Port Authority says "I was burned by politics." (Link)

GM warms to car sharing; will adapt its OnStar anti-theft technology to facilitate personal car rentals. (Link)

When it comes to car colors, white is the new silver. (Link)

(photo courtesy of East River Greenway Initiative)

Virginia begins a year-long study looking at current and projected commuting patterns, the goal being to reduce the number of Northern Virginians who commute by car. (Fairfax Times)

NYC announced a deal that could give the city the money it needs to complete a greenway around Manhattan. (WNYC)

Buffalo wants to bring cars back to Main Street -- undoing the half-billion dollar project from the 1980's to remove cars from the area. (WIVB)

Michigan got a grant to bring speedier rail service between Kalamazoo and Detroit; the Detroit-Chicago corridor also got some good news. (Detroit Free Press)

Virginia's power company is incentivizing nighttime charging for electric car owners. (WAMU)

Montana landowners are suing ExxonMobil's pipeline company over this summer's spill in the Yellowstone River. (KUHF)

A Norwegian energy company has installed 'bicycle care stations' at select gas stations in Copenhagen. (Good)

The Brian Lehrer Show looks at driving in NY and NJ today. (WNYC)

The community board for Manhattan's Upper East Side wants bicyclists to be licensed. (DNA Info)

The MTA is trying to deal with a rat problem at 25 NYC subway stations. (NY1)

Tweet of the day, by MSNBC's Christopher Hayes: "Pro-tip: the best way to cover a mass protest or street action is on your bike."


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Car Colors: White is the New Silver

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A 2011 Porsche in...white. (Photo by BeverlyHillsPorsches via Flickr)

When it comes to car colors, North Americans now prefer white.

According to data released Wednesday by paint maker PPG Industries, white has edged out silver and black as the most popular color of choice for 2011 model vehicles. Silver had been the favorite of North American car buyers for a decade.

In North America, 20 percent of cars were white. Silver came in second, at 19 percent, with black  and gray close behind (18 percent and 15 percent, respectively). Colors such as red, blue, green, yellow, and brown all came in at less than 10 percent.

Other color facts revealed by PPG, which held its Automotive Color Trend Show today: Europeans prefer black cars, Asians prefer silver, and green seems roundly disliked by all three regions, accounting for only 2 percent of car color choices.

But white is the global winner, accounting for 21 percent of 2011 model year cars.

(image courtesy of PPG)

The company said their surveys indicated 77 percent of car buyers said that exterior color was a factor in their purchase, and 31 percent said they’d be willing to pay extra for a color that "expresses their personality."

White will have new competition for the top spot in the future. PPG unveiled 70 shades for the 2014-2015 model years including: "Goldeluxe, a silver with an influence of a gold; White Nougat, a soft creamy white with a highlight sparkle; Muddy Waters, a tone of brown with a pearl luster effect; Grape Spritz, a blue fused with a purple highlight; and Pot O’Gold, a light green with a hint of gold."


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TN MOVING STORIES: Bicycling on the Rise in China, NYC May Update Ancient Parking Zoning Rules

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Top stories on TN:

The ARC tunnel dispute fueled rancor between NJ Governor Christie and the Obama administration. (Link)

Why is it going to take 8 months to put more L trains into service? The MTA and transit union blame each other. (Link)

Special parking for car share programs is being piloted in San Francisco. (Link)

Rand Paul: forget beautification, spend money on fixing infrastructure beasts. (Link)

Questions about subway service? Call 511 (photo by Kate Hinds)

Want to reach New York's MTA? Dial 511. (NY Observer)

Bicycling is on the rise in China. (NPR)

NYC may be getting ready to update the ancient zoning rules regulating parking spaces in the outer boroughs. (Crain's NY)

NJ Transit approved the $95 million settlement with the federal government over the canceled ARC tunnel. (AP via

A look at email correspondence between opponents of a Brooklyn bike lane, pre-lawsuit. (Streetsblog)

Virginia governor: EPA regulations are "job-killing." (WAMU)

NY Daily News editorial: MTA inspector general must investigate LIRR service disruptions, emergency responses.

The head of the Chicago Transit Authority blames the union for the agency's $277 million gap; the union says 'it's not us.' (WBEZ)


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Indiana Outpaces New York in Training Minorities, Women for Highway Construction Jobs

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A state that has 6.4 million people has trained more women and minorities for highway construction jobs than a state with more than three times its population. When it comes to training for highway construction jobs, Indiana had twice as many women and minorities in apprentice programs as did New York between 2008 and 2010.

According to a new report (pdf), most states are failing to fully utilize a federally-mandated program known as On-the-Job Training -- or OJT.   Illinois and Indiana, the report said, had the best record of boosting women and minority participation in the programs.

OJT's are run out of state DOT's, and are designed to train women and minorities for federal highway construction jobs.

Populous states like California and New York fared particularly badly. In terms of sheet numbers, Indiana had 1,573 OJT apprentices from 2008 to 2010, whereas New York had 778 over the same time period.

The numbers are from a report by the Transportation Equity Network, a civil rights advocacy group.  TEN said its report, which is drawn from employment statistics state DOTs report to the federal government, is the first-ever compilation of data from all 50 states on their use of on-the-job-training and apprenticeship programs.

"[It's] a tremendous proram that's been under the wire," said Laura Barrett, executive director of the Transportation Equity Network (TEN).

But, Barrett said, "most states are doing a poor job" of fully utilizing them.

And as stark as the overall numbers are -- New Jersey had a total of nine people enrolled in its state OJT program in 2010 -- when you drill down deeper, the imbalance grows. "Women...are not doing well in terms of being moved into the construction trades," said Barrett. Only Maine and North Dakota's OJT programs have more than 50% women, and some states -- like Idaho and Utah -- have only 8%.

As President Obama touts his American Jobs Act, with its $27 billion for rebuilding roads and bridges, TEN and its supporters say they want to make sure some of those construction jobs go to unemployed people who really need them.

"Look: we’ve got a transportation infrastructure that needs repairs, we've got a workforce that need jobs," said Katherine McFate, executive director of government watchdog group OMB Watch. "You put these two things together and this program shows that with good public investments, you can meet both of those needs and also provide new opportunities for women and minorities."

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TN MOVING STORIES: Car, Truck Sales Up; Perry Dogged by Trans-Texas Corridor

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Transit ridership is up in 2011. (Link)

FAA workers will get back pay for this summer's shutdown. (Link)

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Following Transportation Nation story, Politico says, yeah, Rick Perry's campaign could be sidetracked by the Trans-Texas Corridor. (Politico).

Car sales soared for GM and Chrysler...(Los Angeles Times)

...and Hyundai's benefiting from an ad campaign that plays into people's worries about the economy. (NPR)

AND sales of trucks and SUVs are up. (AP via

Meanwhile: Ford, UAW reach tentative agreement. (Detroit Free Press)

Some Chinese are questioning whether infrastructure growth is worth a tradeoff for safety. (Marketplace)

NY's MTA said it will increase service on the L train after one politician said it has not kept pace with the line’s “meteoric” increase in ridership. (DNA Info)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel held an 'aviation summit.' (Chicago Sun Times)

Chicago bicyclists can now be ticketed for biking while texting or talking on cell phones. (Chicago Sun Times)

Lobbyists for the Trans-Canada pipeline and staffers from the State Department appeared to have a cozy email relationship. (NY Times)

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TN MOVING STORIES: Paris Launches Electric Car Share, Warren Buffett Gets Into Urban Redevelopment, Furloughed FAA Employees Get Paid

Monday, October 03, 2011

Top stories on TN:

NJ and the federal government reach a settlement on ARC tunnel money. (Link 1, link 2)

A Bluecar on Paris's Boulevard Sérurier (photo by Portemolitor via Flickr)

Paris launched an electric "bubble car" auto sharing program. Paris transportation head: "It's the same principle as Velib'; you use the car, leave it and that's it. Simple." (Los Angeles Times, The Guardian)

Warren Buffett joined an effort described as "a holistic approach to urban redevelopment." (USA Today)

Forbes magazine: don't bother making transit pretty. "The point of transit is to transport. Money buys movement, and funds are finite."

Furloughed FAA employees will receive back pay for the time they missed. (The Hill)

The Boston Globe interviewed Janette Sadik-Khan: "Change is messy, and change is hard...but it’s really important that we don’t get stuck in an approach that’s 25 years old."

The New York Post looks at who taxi medallion owners  give campaign donations to local politicians, and concludes "they are often getting their money's worth."

New York Times editorial: say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.

DC's Police Complaints Board said that district police need to become better versed in the bike laws they enforce. (Washington Post)

Is the Tysons Corner Metrorail link on schedule or not? Fairfax County says no; the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority says yes. (WAMU)

Countdown clocks come to Chicago bus shelters. (Chicago Tribune)

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TN MOVING STORIES: NJ Now Owes Interest on Cancelled ARC Tunnel Debt, Maine Speed Limit 75 on One Road, and Lightning Zaps LIRR

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top stories on TN:

DC's paratransit system battles financial woes, unhappy passengers. (Link)

NYC ramping up installation of accessible pedestrian crosswalk signals. (Link)

A Houston official tries to sell bike commuting in a car-centric city. (Link)

The ARC tunnel groundbreaking, during happier times -- and under another governor (photo courtesy of Tri State Transportation Campaign)

$2.6 million in interest was added to the $274 million bill New Jersey owes the federal government after killing the ARC tunnel. (AP via

Speaking of ARC: the enmity between New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie, and NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg stems from the tunnel's cancellation. (NY Times)

Virginia is withholding millions in transit funds until it gets seats on local transit boards. (Washington Post)

As the Port Authority's head prepares to move on, the agency reviews its project list -- and prepares to make some tough decisions. (Wall Street Journal)

On one lone highway in Maine, the speed limit is now 75. (Marketplace)

Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, wants to privatize Amtrak. (The Hill)

Three Miami police officers on bicycle patrol were hit by an SUV. (Miami Herald)

A lightning strike knocked out Long Island Rail Road service yesterday. (WNYC)

NYC subway: more platforms slated for cell service. (NY Post)

Tweet of the day, via Azi Paybarah: "price of medallion is about $650K today, which shows you 'how lucrative it is to drive a cab' said @mikebloomberg."

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NYC Getting More Audible Crosswalk Signals To Help Visually Impaired

Thursday, September 29, 2011

An accessible pedestrian crosswalk control panel (photo by William Alatriste/NY City Council via Flickr)

New York City is ramping up installation of accessible pedestrian crosswalk signals.

On Wednesday, the city showed off its newest APS at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and West 23rd Street. Twenty-one intersections across the city have been equipped with the audible signal devices since 2004. But the city said it's going to be putting them in at a significantly faster rate, with plans for 25 more in the next 12 months.

Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Department of Transportation commissioner, said the audible signals "are literally sound investments that will help improve the safety and quality of life for the most vulnerable New Yorkers who use our streets."

According to DOT information, APSs are wired to a pedestrian signal and can send audible messages to indicate when it is safe to cross. (The button that initiates the sound emits a clicking noise so it can be found by pedestrians.) The units also vibrate to help those with hearing impairments.

Using the new signal, at the intersection of 23rd Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan (photo by William Alatriste/NY City Council via Flickr)

You can read more about the program -- as well as find out where the next audible signals are being installed -- here.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Port Authority Head Could Be Out, Staten Island's Transit Options, and Atlanta's Transit Vs. Roads Debate

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top stories on TN:

What does cell phone service on NYC's subways sound like? "I can't hear you over the train!" (Link)

San Francisco's MUNI spent more money on transit -- yet customer satisfaction fell. (Link)

The outgoing head of NY's MTA said his replacement doesn't need to have a transit background. (Link)

 (photo by Kate Hinds)

The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey may be leaving next month. (New York Times)

NY's DOT unveiled its short list of Staten Island transit alternatives: light rail, BRT, enhanced bus service. (Staten Island Advance)

Atlanta's 'transit vs. roads' debate "may be about to boil over." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Regional transportation officials voted to try to buy a new home in an old building in downtown San Francisco -- despite a looming audit over the purchase. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Dept. of Energy report: US should invest more in green auto tech, less on technologies that will take generations to come to market. (Good)

Faster bus service is coming to midtown Manhattan, as the city expands Select Bus Service to 34th Street. (New York Daily News)

A new agreement between GM and auto workers means that up to a quarter of GM's workforce could be 'two-tier' new hires. (Changing Gears)

Streetsblog looks at a March 2011 WNYC interview through a new lens.

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Jay Walder Says His Replacement Doesn't Need Transit Background

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jay Walder, taking questions from reporters the September 2011 MTA board meeting (photo by Kate Hinds)

The CEO of New York's MTA, Jay Walder, said that his successor doesn't necessarily have to have a transportation background -- but he or she does have to love it.

"Whoever runs this organization should be dedicated to the organization," he said,  and "be dedicated to what it does on a day-to-day basis." Walder went on to say: "I think it is helpful to have a knowledge of mass transit. I don't know that it's an absolutely essential quality."

His remarks came at his final meeting of the MTA board before he leaves for a job in Hong Kong next month, where he'll be heading that city's transit agency.

In an interview last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose administration is currently looking for Walder's replacement, also telegraphed that the next MTA chief may not come from the transportation world.  He told New York State Public Radio's Karen DeWitt in a telephone interview that his administration was engaged in a  "very aggressive talent search." And he said didn't necessarily want to hire a "transit geek."

"The MTA primarily is an effective manager, and I think the ability to manage a complex process, that deals with highly technical services, in a political environment, in a large organization, at a financially strapped time, you know, that's where we are," Cuomo said. "To me, the management is very important. Of course, the technical expertise, but you give me a good manager, who can run an organization, and find efficiency, that this organization is going to have to find, that's going to be paramount."

The next head of the MTA will be managing a delicate financial situation, as Walder pointed out in today's meeting. "As you look forward for the MTA, I think you need to be able to find a way to have both sufficient resources and stability of resources," he said. "I think the ups and downs of the economic cycle create financial burdens for the organization that's inconsistent with the fact that we have a service that continues to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And frankly, I don't think all of us don't want to see that service have to suffer through that."

When asked later if he had any regrets about his tenure, he said "I wish the economic situation I came into was different...[but] you have to play the hand you were dealt. And the hand we were dealt was one that said this was a very very difficult time financially."

But Walder said he was proud of the work the MTA had done under his tenure. "Nothing happens at the MTA because the person in the corner office at 347 Madison Avenue [MTA's current headquarters] says it should happen. Things happen at the MTA because 67,000 dedicated men and women make it happen." He repeatedly praised MTA staffers of all stripes -- from token booth clerks to management to his colleagues on the board. "When we say we're going to get something done, the result is truly, truly incredible."

When the meeting's official business was over -- and it was dispatched with in under 20 minutes -- board members took to the microphones to tell Walder how much they'd miss him. Nancy Shevell said that right after she began working with Walder, she told a friend "well, it's just a short matter of time before a large public-sector company scoops him up. And it happened, and I'm not surprised. And it's sad, in my opinion, for the MTA."

"You are the tallest person in the room," said Allen Cappelli Mark Lebow. "You will probably be the tallest person in China, and you will, I'm sure, be the tallest achiever there as you were here."  (Walder: "I think Yao Ming is going back.")

Governor Cuomo hasn't yet said when he will announce Walder's replacement. As for Walder, he greeted a Chinese-speaking reporter with a hearty "Ni Hao" -- and then said he was going down to the Rosetta Stone store.




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Snapshot | 14th Street Subway Station

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A day after wireless service came to six city subway stations, straphangers waiting for a train at the 14th Street subway station took advantage of the new service.

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TN MOVING STORIES: Ford Denies White House Pressure To Pull Ad, and Shanghai Subway Collision Renews Doubts

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top stories on TN:

A deputy DOT commissioner said no American manufacturers produce a type of rail used in streetcars and light rail -- and he wants that to change. (Link)

At some point, Rick Perry will be asked to defend his Trans-Texas Corridor infrastructure project. (Link)

Opponents of a bike lane in Brooklyn asked a judge for permission to appeal the rejection of their lawsuit. (Link)

(Photo by Kate Hinds)

Yesterday's subway collision in Shanghai has revived safety concerns about China's infrastructure boom. (Los Angeles Times)

The Brian Lehrer Show talks NYC subway station cell phone service this morning. (WNYC)

The government is delaying the release of new mileage and greenhouse gas emissions standards. (The Hill)

Ford denies that the White House pressured the automaker to pull an ad in which an actor, posing as a customer, tells a staged news conference that he would never buy a vehicle from a company that received a government bailout. (Detroit Free Press)

OnStar reverses gears, backs away from its earlier decision to track former customers. (Marketplace)

Transportation construction lobbyists are in favor of Obama's jobs bill. (Politico)

The Times Square pedestrian plaza redesign, unveiled.  (NY Times, DNA Info, NY Post)

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Deputy DOT Commish: No American Manufacturers Produce Track for Light Rail

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A streetcar in Portland (photo by Steven Vance via Flickr)

Buy America is a provision in U.S. law to "ensure that transportation infrastructure projects are built with American-made products."

And John Porcari, the Department of Transportation deputy secretary, says he's the man who signs the waivers allowing companies to buy materials outside the U.S. "Waivers for the  requirements have been routinely granted--I can tell you, I'm the person who signs the waivers, and I try very very hard not to."

But he said there's no American manufacturer who currently produces girder rail -- the type of on-street rail used for streetcars and light rail. Speaking this morning at the Building the Future: New York State Transit Manufacturing conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Porcari said he's been working to change that.

"What we've done is we're aggregated the demand. We've looked at, nationwide, every transit project, how much demand there is, got all the steel companies together, and basically said 'whichever one of you opens a production line for it first wins."'

The DOT estimates 18,000 metric tons of steel girder rail will be needed over the next three years to meet the demand of streetcar projects being planned and built in the U.S.

But Porcari acknowledged that winning the American girder rail business doesn't come cheaply.

"Existing steel companies in America would have to make a very large investment, on the order of over $100 million, for this production line," he said. "We've said [to the steel companies] 'there's enough demand to justify that investment. And if you take that risk, if you make that investment, we'll never sign another waiver.'"

Porcari said that he's hopeful that day will come. "I'm confident we'll have good news on that shortly."




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