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Transportation Nation

LaHood: States Should Spend Faster

Friday, June 18, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  President Barack Obama travels to Columbus , Ohio today to cut the ribbon on the 10,000th Recovery Act highway project.   The move, clearly timed to emit some good news in the cloud of BP spill-related bad news, was heralded Thursday in a conference call by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Biden's Chief Economist, Jared Bernstein.

LaHood said the news could be even better.  "The problem is getting the governors to enter into contracts through their Departments of Transportation to get these contracts awarded so people can be hired."

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Transportation Nation

Planning Group: Tear Down That Drive!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Photo: Terreform and Michael Sorkin Studio

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) In the last five years, New York has added hundreds of miles of bike lanes and closed parts of Broadway to cars, a re-allocation of street space that has caused no small measure of controversy. But those plans? Child's play, compared to what a group of international planners want the city to do: tear down the lower part of the FDR drive.

It’s a proposal that draws almost immediate – and intense – derision from almost anyone who hears it.

“Terrible idea,” mused Bryan Delaney, kibitzing with his wife, Ibelice, the other night on Grand Street near the FDR drive. “Ridiculous,” snorted Carmen Gund, a teacher walking three small dogs. “People are going to drive into Manhattan regardless, so why not have as many roads to drive into Manhattan as possible?”

Inside the Bloomberg administration, there’s also incredulity. “Tear down a ring road?” said one highly placed city official who didn’t want his name used because he was speaking about the plan without authorization. “That will never happen.”

But architect Michael Sorkin, who drew up blueprints for a radically different lower Manhattan, is a fervent believer in the “if you unbuild it, they won’t come,” school of thought. His plans look sort of like a Brooklyn Bridge park, but on the Manhattan side – manicured lawns, plazas, ferry terminals, restaurants, and lots and lots of open sky. For designs and the rest of the article, go to the WNYC Culture page.

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The Takeaway

Toolbelts and Hard Hats: The Road to Female Financial Freedom?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The American workforce is still surprisingly segregated by gender, and this separation does not seem to benefit women. Two-thirds of working women are concentrated in only five percent of occupational categories. And in the few fields where more than 90 percent of workers are women – like childcare and food preparation – the pay tends to be low. Compare this low pay to male-dominated industries (there are a lot of them). Almost one in four job categories, such as construction work and trucking consist of workforces that are almost exclusively male. And those same jobs pay up to 30 percent more than traditionally female jobs like secretarial work.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Modern streetcars are long-term vision for Broward County travel (Sun Sentinel)--but will it be a hard sell in an area where residents are "car crazed?"

Indiana officials lure Chinese automakers to town to try to boost local auto parts manufacturers--and to continue Indy's bid to become an electric vehicle hub (Indianapolis Star)

In New York, bus drivers take two months' paid leave--after being spat upon (WNYC)

Leave your car at the gate: South Carolina developers plan a bicycle-only subdivision (The Item, Sumter, SC)

Meanwhile, across the border in North Carolina, Charlotte's light rail line is underfunded and likely to be shortened (The Transport Politic)

Pennsylvania doesn't make the grade: state gets a D-minus for roads and transit -- while watching construction costs increase 80% in five years (Altoona Mirror)

It might get worse:  there's a shortage on an essential ingredient for those nice yellow road stripes.  (The Takeaway)

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Transportation Nation

LaHood: Tolls Can Pay for Transportation Bill

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation, May 19) Speaking at a community meeting in New York City's Chinatown, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday that tolls ought to be considered as an option to pay for the federal transportation bill. That bill has been stalled in a congress laden with (other) legislative priorities and a total non-desire to pursue any of the unpleasant options for paying for the $600 billion bill (gas taxes, vehicle miles traveled taxes, oil taxes, stock taxes, etc.)

In a discussion about what locals would like to see in the bill, LaHood became animated as he said "these are all good ideas." And then he added "The only problem we have in Washington, believe it or not, is finding the $600 billion to pay for it. " Pressed on sources of funding OTHER than a gas tax, Lahood said: "Another way is -don't run me out, okay? Tolling. Some places in the country are talking about using tolls. You can raise a lot of money by tolling." The crowd, (a New York City crowd, after all), applauded.

"Oh good! You like that idea," LaHood said.

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Transportation Nation

Brooklyn Bridge Project Closes Skate Park

Thursday, May 13, 2010

(WNYC, Kate Hinds, May 13)        The Brooklyn Banks (a red brick plaza under the ramps of the bridge on the Manhattan side) whose ramps, angled surfaces and staircases are catnip to skateboarders (and bikers, and practitioners of Parkour) -- is about to be taken offline.  The Department of Transportation just posted a notice (pdf) that this area will be closed beginning May 15th. (More)

This has been long in coming and has inspired a slew of blog posts, and even a couple of Facebook groups.  We're doing some research to see how long the area will be closed and if it will be restored after the bridge work is completed.  If you know anything, please comment below and make sure to provide a source.  In the meantime, you can feed your Brooklyn Banks skateboard craving by watching a video tribute here.

For more on the Brooklyn Bridge Project, to contribute your stories, or to send pictures, click here.

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Transportation Nation

Renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge Begins

Monday, May 10, 2010

A four-year, $508 million renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge is underway. WNYC is watching -- and wants your help. To get involved, start here.

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Transportation Nation

Minnesota Light Rail:Politics and Racial Strife

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

(Minnesota Public Radio, Laura Yuen, May 5) The final two installments in Minnesota Public Radio's in-depth look at the new light rail line examine the politics and the racial ramifications of building the new line. View a slide show, and listen here.

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Transportation Nation

What happens when a community decides to get bold on transit?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

(St. Paul, Minnesota-- Laura Yuen, MPR News) MPR's four-part series on the travails of the Minneapolis-St. Paul light rail project has begun. It's a terrific, in-depth look at what happens when a community decides to re-organize its street space.

From the story --

And now we hear, 'It's a development project; it's not really a transit project at all,'" anti-Central Corridor blogger Eric Hare tells MPR. "So, in the process of being all things for all people -- and making julienne fries on the side -- what is this thing really trying to accomplish? As we get closer to construction, people who believed the project is one of those three things suddenly find that there are all these compromises made along the way, and it's not what they expected."

But proponents point to another line's success.

After that line -- the Hiawatha line -- was built, skeptics who didn't believe Minnesotans would ride big-city trains finally had an on-the-ground example to draw from, said Karri Plowman, director of the Central Corridor Partnership. It's the business coalition that came together six years ago to advance the project.

Just two years after trains started rolling along Hiawatha, the line carried an average weekday ridership of 26,270 -- well above the original projections for the year 2020.

"Very quickly, the numbers in terms of ridership and success became evident," Plowman said.

Listen to part one here.

Part two examines the University of Minnesota's opposition to the line.

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Transportation Nation

New York’s Subway Tunnels: Not Ready for the Briefcase Bomb?

Friday, April 23, 2010

(New York - Matthew Schuerman, WNYC) -- In the wake of a well-publicized double-stabbing in a Greenwich Village subway station last month, many hands were wrung about the woeful lack of security cameras in subways.

Turns out that New York's attempts to install security devices in subways have been fraught with questions from the beginning.

In the weeks after the London Underground bombing five years ago, New York City officials repeatedly hammered the region’s transit agency for being unprepared for a similar terrorist attack. Six weeks alter, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority responded with a massive $215 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin.

But almost immediately, watchdogs and oversight officials began to wonder aloud whether Lockheed could deliver on a high-profile promise: installing cameras that could detect unattended bags on subway platforms.

Fast forward to 2010: Large portions of the contract have failed to deliver what was promised. MTA and Lockheed are fighting in court. And the zooming technology? Didn’t work, because it didn’t take into account the hundreds of people who would be passing in front of, behind, and next to that briefcase.

WNYC's Matthew Schuerman traces the history of the contract, from its original promise until today.

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WQXR News

Construction at WTC Moves Forward

Friday, March 26, 2010

A new agreement between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority means construction can continue on office towers at the World Trade Center.

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WQXR News

Budget Watchdog Warns on Construction Costs

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An independent commission is raising a warning flag about the cost of the city's capital construction campaign.

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Transportation Nation

WNYC: Back to the Beame Shuffle? Transit Advocates, MTA Debate Use of Stimulus

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NEW YORK, NY January 12, 2010 —Transit advocates have a plan to avert the service cuts the MTA is proposing to implement this summer. They say, use a small portion of the money that's being allocated to big capital construction projects. But MTA officials say that would be sacrificing the transit system's future for short-term gains.

Listen to the full story.

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Transportation Nation

The Takeaway: New York Mayor Bloomberg at Climate Talks in Copenhagen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in Copenhagen this week to take part in the Climate Summit for Mayors.  Last week, the Mayor passed his Greener, Greater, Buildings Plan, and this week he hopes to inspire leaders from other cities to follow suit.  With cities around the worldproducing more than 80 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions, changes in urban systems can have green effects globally.  We speak with Bloomberg from Copenhagen.

Listen to the full story.

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Transportation Nation

WNYC: MTA Criticized for Countdown Clocks for Bus and Subways

Friday, December 04, 2009

NEW YORK, NY December 04, 2009 —An influential Long Island lawmaker is criticizing the MTA's decision to install countdown clocks throughout the bus and subway system. At a hearing yesterday on the authority's capital plan, State Senator Craig Johnson said he had a tough enough time voting for a new payroll tax this spring to bail out the MTA.
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The Brian Lehrer Show

Report on Halted Development in Your Neighborhood

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Drastic changes in the economy have ground many developers’ plans to a halt in the New York City metro region. We’re tracking cranes on pause as the latest chapter of our project, Your Uncommon Economics Indicators. Help us map and photograph the empty condos, half-baked luxury high rises and stalled ...

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Halted Development

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drastic changes in the economy have ground many developers' plans to a halt in the New York City metro region. We're tracking cranes on pause as the latest chapter of our project, Your Uncommon Economics Indicators. Help us map and photograph the empty condos, half-baked luxury high rises and stalled ...

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Mess or Blessing?

Monday, March 23, 2009

photo by Jill Zimmerman

photo by Jill Zimmerman

One of our recent contributors to the Uncommon Economic Indicators loves her view (see photo).

She writes, ' walking around my [Williamsburg] neighborhood, I see tons of empty lots that were formerly old factories and apartment ...

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Studio 360

Design for the Real World: Excavator

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Industrial engineer James Dyson is the creator of the Dyson Cyclone Vacuum, but he also digs the elegant design of another dirty machine — the excavator.

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