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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

TN Moving Stories

Friday, June 18, 2010

Obama, LaHood to Ohio to mark start of the 10,000th road project launched under recovery act.  (Columbus Dispatch)

Boston commuter rail link to South Coast takes step forward with purchase of frieght tracks.  (Boston Globe)

Toyota resumes building Mississippi facility, promising 2,000 jobs.  UAW accuses company of skirting union shops.  (AP)

Seattle jaywalking spot becomes YouTube sensation, police concern.  (Seattle Times)

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Transportation Nation

JetBlue VP: Airplanes No Good For New York-Boston (AUDIO)

Monday, June 14, 2010

(New York, NY - Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation)  Jet Blue Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster has a refreshingly comprehensive view of transportation.  "I may be shooting ourselves in the foot here, with five daily flights from JFK to Boston.  But it just may not make that much sense for an airplane on a 150-mile route to fly over 300 air miles to get there.  Maybe there's a different mode of transportation that may be better to carry those customers from point A to point B," Maruster said today.

He was speaking at a forum on the future of airports and air traffic control.  It was an event filled with charts and maps that drove home how overwhelmed and outdated current air traffic control technology is.  One solution Maruster said was obvious is taking airline passengers off some routes, like New York to Boston. 

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Transportation Nation

Brooklyn Bridge Rehab Creates Jobs, But You'll Never Know How Many

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Vice President Joe Biden is gifted the Brooklyn Bridge (Kate Hinds/WNYC)

(Kate Hinds, WNYC) Wednesday's official groundbreaking of the Brooklyn Bridge rehab brought out some big political names--Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Congressman Jerrold Nadler. What it did not bring was clarity on the job creation issue.

Because New York received federal stimulus dollars to complete the bridge work ($30 million of the $508 total comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with a $192 million in additional federal funding and $286 in the city’s own capital funds going to complete the work), the city must follow certain reporting guidelines, like the amount of money spent, the progress of the work and the expected number of jobs that the project will generate, although pinning down actual job creation numbers is notoriously difficult. (Last December, the Obama administration changed the job reporting requirement to evaluate “full-time equivalent” positions paid for out of stimulus funding--regardless of whether the job was newly created or existing.)

New York City’s stimulus website estimates that the Brooklyn Bridge rehab will create and/or retain 834 full-time equivalent positions--although New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said after the press conference that calculating the number was difficult. “There are all different ways to cut a job,” she said. “There’s the direct job number, then there’s the indirect job number--I think that’s 2,594 or something, it’s not an exact science.” Earlier in press conference, the vice president said that the federal stimulus dollars would create 150 jobs.

But as of March 31--the most recent stimulus reporting deadline--New York City’s own data said the bridge work had created 0.13 positions. Recovery.gov’s data registered zero jobs created, even though Skanska Koch, the contractor, officially began work in January. According to the commissioner, the .13 figure is outdated and a more accurate number will be reflected in the next reporting period, which ends June 30. “I think we have 44 people on-site right now, and we expect that number to grow as the project ramps up,” she said. WNYC was unable to find any public job postings for the Brooklyn Bridge work on either the New York State Department of Labor website or recovery.gov.

The commissioner added that the work on the bridge is “on schedule and on budget” despite its complexity--and the fact that it’s reported as being six months late on the city’s stimulus tracker. “This is not a typical infrastructure job in that this is the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a half-billion dollar project...this is not a project where you're stapling two pieces of paper together. This is a project where you are engaging a wide swath of the construction and engineering community,” she said.

But back to the Brooklyn Bridge and job creation. “Yes, these are jobs, these are real jobs,” Vice President Biden said. “But I want to point out--when people say well, this is because the economy’s in such trouble. What we’re doing here, what the mayor and the city and state are doing here on the Brooklyn Bridge--and what we’re doing on those other bridges across the country--they are worthwhile in and of themselves. (Even if) this economy were clipping along at an 8 percent growth rate and we had zero percent unemployment, this is a necessary, worthwhile investment.”

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Learn more about WNYC’s Brooklyn Bridge coverage--and to sign up to help the station watch the work here.

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Transportation Nation

What Will Andrew Cuomo Do on Transportation? He's Not Telling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation). Like moth to a flame, I'm drawn to read every page when a candidate releases a 252-page briefing book. So when Andrew Cuomo sent out his "The New NY Agenda: A Plan for Action" on Sunday night, I was excited. Really.

I wouldn't be spending the campaign waiting for my interview, or listening closely to q-and-a's, or shouting out questions at press conferences. It would be all there, in black and white, the answers to all my questions. Too bad I was wrong.

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WNYC News

Taking the Sea-Line to the Atlantic

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sea Turtle on the 7
Image courtesy of Robert Martore and Matthew Malina

Over the past nine years, hundreds of New York City's old, graffiti-covered subway cars have made their final trip: from the top of ...

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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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WNYC News

Walder: Let's Close Down Lines for Subway Repair. Oops -- Never Mind

Thursday, May 13, 2010

MTA Chairman Jay Walder gave transit reporters a good story this afternoon. Then, within hours, his press office had taken it away.

At the end of an informal briefing about budget cuts, a reporter asked Walder about the city and state comptrollers deciding to audit the way the MTA disrupts ...

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WNYC News

311 Hits 100 Million Call Milestone

Monday, May 10, 2010

top_051010

When the landlord won't turn on the heat or the bar downstairs won't turn down the bass, 311 is there. This weekend the city's information hotline took its 100 millionth call. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was at a call center Monday to honor the lucky ...

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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

How Americans Decide to (Not) Use Transit

Monday, May 10, 2010

The nation has gone through dramatic demographic and economic change over the last 10 years, in what history may end up calling the "lost decade" because jobs and economic change didn't keep pace.  That loss is coming home to roost now, says the Brookings Institution, which has turned its gaze and powers of analysis to The State of Metropolitan America.  One focus is on commuting, where the latest Census data and research points to a small drop in the number of people driving alone to work.  There is also a stark illustration of transit use: in only two major U.S. do more than one-quarter of residents do something besides drive to work alone (they are SF and NYC).

Today on The Takeaway, Bruce Katz, the Director of Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program, shares his findings.  Among them, "if we keep building out low-density sprawl -- subsidized, frankly by government -- people won't choose a (transit) option."  Steve Dutch, Professor of Applied and Natural Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Green-Bay shares his research and views on why people don't use mass transitMore.

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Transportation Nation

Light Rail, and All That Stands in the Way

Thursday, April 29, 2010

(Houston, TX - Melissa Galvez, KUHF News Lab) -- If you don’t have a car in Houston, life can be very difficult.  So you might think that communities would be clamoring to get the new light rail line through their neighborhood; but in fact, there’s been opposition across the city, even as construction plows ahead on 3 of 5 proposed new lines. Concerns about eminent domain, gentrification, danger to children—even a tree—stand in the way of a harmonious ground-breaking.  But other residents welcome rail with open arms.  They look around at their crumbling neighborhoods and hope the train will being the economic development they so desperately need.  A look at the perhaps unlikely outlines of the light rail debate.

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Transportation Nation

Bloomberg gives himself a "57" on PlaNYC

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created not a few waves by unveiling PlanNYC, a 127-point plan to cut New York's carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2030. The signature initiative -- which drew almost all the heat -- was a congestion pricing plan to charge drivers entering certain parts of Manhattan. That plan died under fierce opposition from the state Assembly. Also struggling is a proposal to make the city's taxi fleet hybrid, overturned by Federal Judge Paul Crotty. Even so, at the three-year mark the city is calling its efforts "a great start." New York City Sustainability Director Rohit Aggarwala sits down with Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein to discuss PlaNYC at 3.

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WNYC News

A Wet 'n' Wild Press Junket

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The city's Department of Environmental Protection is preparing itself for a public drubbing, come May. That's when hearings will be held by the Water Board in all five boroughs, over a proposed water rate hike of 12.9%. The rate is set to go up as of July, and one imagines that there aren't that many citizen-defenders of the increase lining up.

In anticipation of the criticism, the DEP is trying to build up goodwill for the multi-billion dollar projects it's undertaking. Yesterday a bunch of reporters and photographers were given a tour of the Croton Water Filtration plant, which is under construction in the Bronx and which has added $177 to the average household's annual water bill.

Bottom line of the press junket: Here are your rate hike dollars at work.


photos by Arun Venugopal

The Croton plant is in the Bronx, a few steps from the end of the No. 4 subway line. Right now, the nine-acre project zone is chaotic: Cement trucks drive in and out, along with front loaders, and there are about two dozen cranes looming over the site. In time, however, the $2.8 billion project will be invisible, as the filtration plant will be concealed beneath a driving range. The DEP says the plant's green roof--essentially the grassy lawns for all those golf balls--will be the largest in the city.

Water has been flowing through the area from upstate for years. In 1890, the New Croton Aqueduct was constructed, and that's been in use since then, having replaced the original Croton Aqueduct, which was completed in 1842. But the DEP says new, elaborate filtration systems are required to bring the city in line with federal EPA standards. The new plant will also have an ultra-violet irradiation system, to destroy giardia parasites and other evil things.

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WNYC News

Returning the Waterfront to the City's Forefront

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Remember the days when you zipped around town by way of the water? Neither do we. But if you've read books, you'd know that's how it once was, and Roland Lewis of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance says it can be once again.

"Let's imagine docks in every single one of ...

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Transportation Nation

When a bridge dies: life on the infrastructure frontier

Thursday, March 25, 2010

 


(Collin Campbell)

(Chimney Rock, VT - Transportation Nation) - Many people who live around Lake Champlain remember where they were when they got the news.

 

For Tim Kayhart, it was 2 p.m. on October 16th.  He was chopping corn in a field next to the Champlain Bridge in Addison, Vermont. A neighbor pulled over, walked up to him in the field and told him the span had just been closed for good; scheduled for demolition.  "It felt like a brick wall," Kayhart said.

 

Tim Kayhart and his brother have 1,7000 acres split between New York and Vermont. The livestock, feed and fertilizer they once shuttled over the bridge will now have to go by ferry across Lake Champlain.

Kayhart’s mother and father bought the dairy farm that he and his brother now work on in 1979.  Their collection of cows and a handful of red barns sits about half a mile from where a bridge used to be. As the business grew, the Kayharts shopped for more space in New York. The land was cheaper, the soil was better and they settled on a property four miles away, across the lake. The two farms came to work so well together that they trucked manure from the cows in Vermont to fertilize fields in New York.

 

On October 16, the New York State Department of Transportation said a recent inspection of piers that supported the bridge found they were no longer structurally sound.  The bridge would be closed immediately.  In that instant, the distance between Kayhart's farms went from four miles to 150 miles, via a long drive around the southern end of the lake. 

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WNYC News

Filling a Hole in Staten Island

Thursday, March 04, 2010

As the City Hall press corps waited for the announcement of the filling of the 'two-millionth pothole' of the Bloomberg administration to begin, a man who lives adjacent to the pothole in question began gesturing toward it knowingly.

Tobia Barbato (photo by Kathleen Horan)

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WNYC News

Why is My Flight Delayed? An Air Traffic Controller Explains

Friday, February 26, 2010

(Photo by Stephen Nessen)

Stephen Abraham, the president of the local National Air Traffic Controllers Association at JFK (Photo by Stephen Nessen)

Starting Monday, air traffic controllers at John F. Kennedy International airport are going to have to work with one less runway. The busiest ...

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The Takeaway

Living Snow Fences? Subway Station Skylights? High-Speed Rail? It's the Federal Stimulus, One Year In: a Transportation Nation podcast

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WNYC

One year ago, the Obama Administration began pushing billions and billions of dollars out the door.  The federal stimulus combines tax cuts, huge chunks of federal spending and the extension of benefits in hopes of stimulating the American economy.  So how are American cities changing, and what will we remember about this massive program decades from now?

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WNYC News

The Stimulus Bill, One Year Later

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The White House says the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created or saved some 160,000 jobs in New York state, and another 65,000 in New Jersey.

The jobs numbers come on the first anniversary of the stimulus bill. They're based not on actual jobs -- which has been hard ...

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