Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg announced a major plan to prepare the city for the next big storm. Seth Pinsky of the New York City Economic Development Corporation is here to discuss. Plus: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; corruption at non-profits; a neuroscientist’s ideas about drugs; and Ophira Eisenberg from NPR’s quiz show “Ask Me Another.”
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo and Heat Wave, is joined by two graduate students to discuss their research into NYC's response to climate change and Hurricane Sandy. Liz Koslov, a doctoral student in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, talks about her research in coastal Staten Island, where residents are trying to figure out if the government will buy them out of their homes, and at what price. Sociology doctoral student Jacob Faber explains his work on the geography of Sandy's impact, in terms of flooding, access to public transit and problems with electricity and sewage.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
By Stephen Nessen : Reporter, WNYC News
The Red Cross has raked in $303 million in donations since Sandy struck the region last October, but the organization has only spent two-thirds of that, leaving $111 million in its coffers.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
By Stephen Nessen : Reporter, WNYC News
On the Rockaway peninsula in Queens catastrophic damages from Sandy are still visible, and many residents and business owners wonder if anyone will come to a beach that’s still under construction this summer.
Monday, April 29, 2013
By Stephen Nessen : Reporter, WNYC News
While all New York City school buildings damaged by Sandy are operational, one school just over city lines on Long Island took a little longer to re-open. Students returned to a renovated facility on Monday.
TN MOVING STORIES: Transit Security Tightens Across County, California Bullet Train Bid Lower Than Expected, Salt Lake City's New Rail Line
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
By Kate Hinds
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
By Kate Hinds
On Thursday, New Yorkers will ride the subway like it's 1999.
Or really 2009, because that's the last time the old South Ferry station saw action.
The formerly decommissioned station is being pressed back into service while the newer station -- heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy -- undergoes extensive repairs that could take several years. The old station is built around a tight curve in the tracks at the Lower Manhattan terminus of the 1 line that subway trains sometimes use to turn around. And the platform is shorter than the length of a train: passengers using the retro station will need to sit in the first five cars to exit.
Related: Old South Ferry Station, Replaced At a Cost of $530 Million, Pressed Back Into Service
South Ferry is used by tens of thousands of Staten Island Ferry riders. Their convenient connection to the 1 train was lost when Sandy flooded the new South Ferry station. Since then, the 1 line has been starting and ending at Rector Street, which inserts a ten minute walk into Staten Islanders' already long commutes.
The MTA estimated several weeks ago that returning service to the decommissioned station would cost about $2 million. (Read about the scope of the work here.) Meanwhile, restoring service to the three-year old station destroyed by Sandy will cost about 300 times more.
The MTA is still working on restoring another post-Sandy subway service gap: A train service to the Rockaways.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By Kate Hinds
New Jersey Transit is putting together a more than $1.2 billion request for federal aid to help it recover from Sandy and prepare for future storms.
Earlier this week, the agency's post-Sandy project list was approved by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, a regional authority that has to sign off on federal funding requests. Of that $1.2 billion request, $450 million is direct cost from Sandy damage. (See photos of the damage here). The remainder would help the agency resist damage from future storms.
The largest chunk of money, $565 million, would go to resiliency funding devoted to upgrading its rail facilities and creating two new storage yards in Linden and New Brunswick. Agency spokesman John Durso Jr. said those yards would be built to withstand a storm at least as strong as Sandy.
The agency doesn't want a repeat of last year's flooding at storage yards in the Meadowlands and Hoboken, which surprised the agency and damaged nearly a quarter of its rail fleet. According to the NJTPA document, those facilities "will require evacuation in future impending storms."
Speaking Wednesday at a NJ Transit board meeting, executive director James Weinstein said if the Linden yard clears a vetting process, the agency hopes to have it in place as the default safe haven in time for this year's hurricane season.
But that's not all NJ Transit has to do. Included in the project list:
- $194 million to replace wooden catenary poles with steel ones along the Gladstone Line, constructing sea walls along the North Jersey Coast Line, elevate flood-prone substations, and raise signal bungalows
- $150 million to upgrade the Meadowlands Maintenance Complex in Kearny, including building flood walls
- $150 million for flood mitigation at its facilities in Hoboken and Secaucus and to provide crew quarters "to ensure the availability of crews post-storms"
- $26.6 million to improve the resiliency of the Hudson-Bergen light rail and the Newark city subway.
"If you think about it," said Weinstein, "what Sandy has created (is) a billion dollar-plus capital program overnight, basically. And that billion dollar-plus capital program has to be evaluated, implemented, executed and completed, under some very strict guidelines that were enacted by Congress."
Should NJ Transit receive funding from the federal government, work would have to be completed within two years from the date of funding notification.
These are "hard core infrastructure projects," said Weinstein.
But he added that it may not be enough: "whether you can prevent boats from washing up on your bridge, I don't know of an engineering principle that would do that. But what we're trying to do is make sure that the structural integrity of this infrastructure doesn't get undermined in the future."
Monday, March 11, 2013
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, WNYC) Before Sandy, every A train trip between the Rockaway peninsula and the rest of New York City began and ended with a crossing of Jamaica Bay. The train moved along a piece of land so thin that, from inside the train, it appears to skim atop the water. But for months, that 3.6 mile railroad bridge has been out, doubling commutes for Rockaways residents and further adding to the sense of deprivation brought on by Sandy.
On October 29, Sandy's storm surge overwhelmed that thread of connection. When the waters receded, the A train's foundation was gone, removing a major transit link from the peninsula's 130,000 residents.
One of those residents is senior producer of The Takeaway, Jen Poyant. She moved to the Rockaways a few years ago for a relatively affordable beach home -- far from Manhattan, but still, a direct shot on the A train. Water filled Poyant's basement, and came within a foot of flooding her first floor. For a month, she and her family couldn't return home. When she finally got back, she was overjoyed, but the daily trip to work can feel overwhelming -- like a little bit of work squeezed between commutes.
The direct train ride has become an odyssey from a slow-moving crowded bus to the train miles into the mainland. Sometimes, fellow commuters told Poyant, it takes all night to get home from Manhattan.
The MTA says its aware of the frustrating commute, but can't promise relief until summer.
MTA executive director Tom Prendergast described the result to New York's City Council: "An entire bridge and critical subway line serving the Rockaways was destroyed."
With the A train out, the MTA put subway cars on a truck, drove them to the peninsula and lifted them by crane onto tracks that serve six stops at the end of the line. The H train now runs for free from mid-peninsula at Beach 90th Street to the eastern end of the Rockaways. Bus service has also been increased.
But these are temporary measures. The list of needed repairs to the A train is extensive, and the going is slow. "We had to build out the shoulders on the east and west sides of the track, where you saw the washouts occur," Prendergast said. "We've had to replace damaged and missing third rail protection boards and insulators. We've had to replace signal power and communications equipment, which is ongoing." And damage to the Broad Channel subway station has not yet been fully repaired.
The MTA has patched and reinforced the land bridge where Sandy took large bites from it. But crews are still laboriously laying track and rebuilding the signal system from scratch — both on the railbed crossing Jamaica Bay and on the west end of the peninsula.
In the meantime, the MTA says it'll keep increasing service on the Q53 line, using old buses that have been held back from retirement. Those buses are jammed with riders every weekday rush hour as they make their way over the Cross Bay Bridge. More buses are coming in April.
The A train is expected back no earlier than late June.
Monday, March 04, 2013
By Reema Khrais
The notification process for public and private school acceptances were supposed to be in synch this year but because of Sandy the public school notices are coming two weeks late, on March 15. This has left some families forced to pay private school deposits now while they wait. “We tell them that they have to read their contract carefully before they sign on the dotted line,” a parent advisor said. “Be prepared to lose your deposit.”
Thursday, February 28, 2013
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there have been a number of proposals to waterproof the New York waterfront. One idea is to erect large—and expensive—storm surge barriers. Alex Marshall, author of "The $5.9 Billion Question" in the February issue of Metropolis magazine and author of the new book The Surprising Design of Market Economies, Malcolm Bowman, distinguished professor of oceanography at SUNY Stonybrook, Piet Dircke, and global director for water management for ARCADIS, talk about the proposals.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
WNYC's Bob Hennelly discusses how the automatic spending sequester cuts will affect local services, including some of the money slated for Sandy relief.
As @bobhwnyc points out, sequester isn't a shutdown - services would gradually degrade, not stop immediately, as agencies rework budgeting.— Brian Lehrer Show (@BrianLehrer) February 26, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
By Kate Hinds
A coastal Jersey roadway ravaged by Sandy will take two years and over $215 million to repair.
Speaking Tuesday in the shore town of Lavalette, Governor Chris Christie said the state has received federal funding to rehabilitate a 12.5 mile stretch of Route 35 running from Point Pleasant Beach to Island Beach State Park. The road, which is a block from the Atlantic Ocean, "sustained some of the most severe damage in the state," said Christie. "Thousands of truckloads of debris and sand" were removed in the days after the storm, he said, and the road was "chewed away" in places. In Mantoloking (see above), the storm cut a new inlet between the ocean and the bay.
Christie said the scope of the damage left him with a decision: "Build back to where we were, or rebuild better and stronger." He added: "our decision is to rebuild better and rebuild now."
The new roadbed will be 24 inches thick instead of the current eight -- incorporating both an asphalt pavement top and sub-base materials to act as drainage and stabilization. There will also be a new drainage system and pump stations. "The new system will be built to handle 25-year storms, which is the maximum attainable given the peninsula's geology," reads the press release.
That's reasonable, says Dr. Tom Bennert, pavement expert at Rutgers' Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation. He said the force of the water generated by Sandy was tremendous.
"It would be very difficult for any structure, even pavement, to withstand that," he said. "A 25-year flood, based on the geology, based on the fact that there is quite a high water table in that area, you’re only going to be able to drain so much, is a very realistic target."
Bennert said he was glad to see the state pay attention to the drainage system, which he said is critical. "It’s kind of hard to visualize," Bennert says, "because when we’re driving on the road we just see the top. But really there’s six to 12 inches of asphalt below that, then granular material used as a foundation to support the asphalt." That granular material provides drainage to make sure if water gets in, it doesn’t stay there.
Bennert also said Route 35 needed work even before Sandy hit. "A lot of our pavements in this state have lived past their design life," he said, and that includes Route 35. "It was a pavement that was built quite a while ago and honestly...really needed to be reconstructed to begin with."
The project is being divided into three phases. The first section of the road to be repaired will be the northernmost stretch, which currently has just one travel lane open in each direction. Work will begin this summer.
According to New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Greeley, "the Complete Streets model has been incorporated into our design for all three contracts." He says the state will be installing new sidewalks, as well as upgrading many existing intersections with ADA-compliant curb ramps, high visibility crosswalks and some pedestrian signal heads at certain locations.
Greeley adds: "While there are no dedicated bike lanes planned, the reconstructed roadway shoulders will be built to the same strength as the travel-lanes and will therefore provide a safer and smoother ride for cyclists."
The New Jersey Department of Transportation says that while it tries to limit summer construction along shore highways, work on Route 35 will be ongoing throughout 2013. At least one lane of traffic will be open in each direction at all times.
To watch Governor Christie make the funding announcement, see the video below.
For more, check out the WNYC series Life After Sandy.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
By Kate Hinds
New Jersey Transit says it could be next fall before service is restored to pre-Sandy levels. And the cost of its damage is now pegged at $450 million -- a $50 million increase over previous estimates.
Speaking Wednesday at a board meeting, NJ Transit executive director Jim Weinstein said the agency was still assessing the damage and putting together its request for federal aid. The $450 million figure includes approximately $100 million in damage to rail cars and locomotives, as well as approximately $20 million in lost revenue. Weinstein said insurance will be covering the damage to rail cars and locomotives, and the agency is also submitting a request to the Federal Transit Administration for funding.
But full recovery will take more than money. During the storm surge, replacement parts for rail cars and locomotives were damaged. And these are not off-the-shelf items. So Weinstein says bringing service back to pre-Sandy levels will take some more time. “All of the equipment back? I mean we're talking the better part of a year,” he said.
Right now, service is at about 94% of pre-Sandy levels. Weinstein said that number will increase further in March, when repairs are complete at Hoboken’s electrical substation, allowing the electric trains that ply the Gladstone and Morris & Essex Lines to operate again. Right now those lines must use diesel locomotives, which are slower than electric.
Also on the agency’s agenda: finding a more flood-proof rail yard. During Sandy, trains and equipment were stored in low-lying rail yards. Officials have maintained there was no need to move them because the areas had never flooded before. But now, the agency is looking to expand a rail yard south of New Brunswick to provide a safe harbor for trains and equipment during future storms. When asked if the new storage facility would be in place in time for hurricane season, Weinstein answered tersely.
"No, I don't want it to be in place by the next hurricane season," he said. "It will be in place by the next hurricane season."
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
By Ilya Marritz
More than three months after Sandy, frustration continues to grow in parts of lower Manhattan where many residents and businesses are still without phone or internet service
Monday, February 04, 2013
The funds are the "first installment" of $10.9 aid to transit passed by Congress and signed into law last week.
The NY MTA estimates Sandy caused $5 billion in damages in what it's then-head Joe Lhota called the "worst devastation ever." For a sense of why the price tag on rebuilding is so high, consider this radio report on the destroyed South Ferry station in Southern Manhattan, a single project that could cost about half a billion dollars.
The $2 billion made available today in federal money will go to a mix of agencies battered by Sandy's floodwaters, not just the NYC subway. See below for the official announcement:
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Makes $2 Billion in Federal Aid Available for Public Transit Systems Damaged by Hurricane Sandy
Assistance part of $10.9 billion emergency relief package to restore transit in 13 states
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced the availability of $2 billion through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) new Emergency Relief Program to help protect, repair, reconstruct, and replace public transit equipment and facilities that were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The funds are the first installment of $10.9 billion appropriated to the FTA through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which President Obama signed into law on January 29.
“At DOT, we continue doing all we can to help our state and local partners make their storm-damaged public transportation systems whole again,” said Secretary LaHood. “The $2 billion we’re making available now will reimburse transit agencies for extraordinary expenses incurred to protect workers and equipment before and after the hurricane hit, and support urgently needed repairs to seriously damaged transit systems and facilities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and elsewhere.”
FTA’s new Emergency Relief Program was established under the two-year surface transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The funds will be awarded through the program on a rolling basis, in the form of grants to states, local governments, transit agencies and other organizations that own or operate transit systems damaged by the storm. Information about the funds and how to apply is available at www.fta.dot.gov/
“The Department has stepped up to address the worst transit disaster in U.S. history, which directly affected well over one-third of the nation’s transit,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “We are pledged to distribute the emergency relief funding responsibly and as quickly as possible to ensure that transit riders have the reliable service they need and deserve—and lay a strong foundation to mitigate the impact of such disasters in the future.”
Following the storm, the Department developed a rapid-response strategy to assist transit providers in the short-run, while laying the foundation for the responsible administration of federal-aid transit funds available now. Notably, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and FTA have conducted continuing damage assessments and cost-validation work for both operating and capital costs associated with restoring and rebuilding transit in the impacted areas. These early joint efforts support FTA’s ability to compensate the affected transit agencies promptly while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly.
Consistent with the requirements of the supplemental appropriations, the remaining disaster relief funds will be made available after FTA issues interim regulations.
For the most part, the FTA will cover 90 percent of the cost of transit-related operating and capital projects undertaken in response to Hurricane Sandy.
Monday, February 04, 2013
By Ilya Marritz
The biggest office building in New York City – actually, the biggest office building anywhere east of the Mississippi River – is a structure you’ve probably never heard of: It’s 55 Water Street. It's a 1970s-era skyscraper just steps from the East River.