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Infrastructure

WNYC News

Q-U-I-E-T-I-V-E

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thirteen year olds Talia Weisberg and Thomas Harkins, New York City eighth graders, spelled their way to trophies this week. The New York City spelling bee champions competed against 88 other students from all five boroughs, ranging from fifth to eighth grade. The two-day competition ended this morning in ...

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WNYC News

When a $4B Subway Is Like a Chevy

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

secondstreetConsider it the MTA's 'Special Olympics' moment: an attempt at self-deprecation that sorely backfires. The head of the MTA's Capital Construction Company, Michael Horodniceanu, on Monday told board members about the need to scale back the 72nd Street station ...

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WNYC News

MTA Committee Votes Yes on Fare Hikes, Board to Vote Wednesday

Monday, March 23, 2009

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An MTA Committee has said 'yes' to mass transit fare hikes. The unanimous vote by the Finance Committee is the first of two approvals needed before a single ride rises to $2.50. Board members say state lawmakers should step in with a rescue plan before the full board votes on Wednesday.

Allen Cappelli, a board member from Staten Island, says time is running out. 'There are 45 hours before this disaster goes into effect and I hope that something will sink in with both the Democrats and the Republicans,' says Cappelli.

Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger struck a conciliatory tone to reporters afterwards, saying he was optimistic that the state Senate would step in to prevent those fares from taking effect. 'They are going to make it happen, I believe, as soon as they can get together and figure out what they as a majority want to do it,' says Hemmerdinger. 'They will do it as soon as they can I'm sure they want to do it as quickly as we want them to do it.'

Commuters at Grand Central Station this afternoon generally didn't like hearing the latest news about train service. Manhattan resident Eileen Conway, 26, who takes the subway regularly, said it comes at the wrong time. 'A lot of people don't have the funds that they did even six months ago and the fact that they are working with less and having to pay more is incredible,' says Conway.

Metro-North riders would also see their fares go up. Cesar Rodriguez takes occasional trips down to Manhattan from his home near Beacon. But he doubts he will come as often if the off-peak fare goes up from $12 to $15 as approved today. 'It's like they don't want you to come down here,' says Rodriguez. 'As soon as you come down they want to hit you over the head right away.'

Governor Paterson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have reached an agreement. But the Democratic majority of the state Senate has rejected the bridge tolls on the East River as a means of helping the MTA, while Republicans are resisting the payroll tax.

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WNYC News

Stimulating NJ's "Stately Pleasure-Dome"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

domeblueBack in 2002, Xanadu, the 2.3 million square foot mega entertainment and retail complex, was intended as a way for New Jersey’s Sport and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) to rebrand its aging Meadowlands Complex. The NJSEA was facing the loss of three of its sports franchises, the Devils, the Nets and the Jets. For years, the commercial potential of the sports complex, just 25 minutes from New York City, had never really materialized. The site was only accessible by auto and traffic jams plagued its busiest days.

New Jersey is always strapped for transportation dollars. So the odds were stacked against the NJSEA to get the hundreds of millions needed for a mass transit link that would only serve Sunday football fans. But if they could add a “Xanadu', that would also include office and hotel development, the Sports Authority could make its case.

Xanadu, As Built, March 17, 2009

Listen to Hennelly's tale of Xanadu:

The Port Authority did shell out $182 million for the 2.3-mile rail spur that ties the entire Meadowlands complex into New Jersey Transit’s rail network. The NJSEA kicked in over $6 million to buy land it needed to complete the rail right of way, also a Superfund site in the midst of remediation.

A rail spur that was supposed to cost $150 million would cost almost 30 percent more and be years behind schedule. It is scheduled now to open in June. As far as holding on to the three sports franchises for the NJSEA? It was one for three. The Devils skated to Newark, the Nets look to be bouncing to Brooklyn and the Jets landed in the neighborhood. They teamed up with the Giants to build a brand new stadium. Was the private public partnership a “win win? Time will tell. Xanadu says it is 70 percent leased, but concedes it does not yet have an anchor retail tenant.

The History: The Vision, Early Supporters, Key Documents

The Vision

Images courtesy of Meadowlands Xanadu
'A world of opportunity'

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WNYC News

Senator Gillibrand Meets with Lobbyists -- and Tells Us!

Monday, March 16, 2009

(Getty)

(Getty)

In an early meeting with journalists after her appointment, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand noted she was among the first members of Congress to post her schedule -- including meetings with lobbyists and so-called 'private meetings' -- on the internet. She's barely got a website up and running (spokesman Matt Canter says a more complete one is coming within the week). But we asked anyway, who has she met with? (We were curious if anyone was lobbying her on the stimulus funding, and our interest was piqued by the conspicuous presence of former Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who IS lobbying on stimulus funding, , at the press conference announcing Gillibrand's appointment.) Canter sent us over this list -- anything on it look interesting to you?

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WNYC News

MTA Alert: Delays in 1,2,3,4 and 5 Trains

Monday, March 16, 2009

A water main break in lower Manhattan is causing subway and traffic disruptions. The break occurred on Varick Street about 12:20 p.m. and is causing delays on the Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 subway lines. The Department of Environmental Protection says it has shut off water in the area. Two lanes have been closed to traffic while crews work on the problem.

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WNYC News

First News Subway Station Opens in 20 Years

Monday, March 16, 2009

southferryGovernor Paterson joined officials this morning for the opening of the first new subway station in 20 years. The new South Ferry Station at the southern end of the number 1 line will be able to accommodate all 10 cars ...

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WNYC News

Governors...er Mayor's Island

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg is trying to convince the state to relinquish control of Governors Island and Brooklyn Bridge Park to the city. Currently both parks are jointly funded by the city and the state, but in Governor Paterson's current fiscal budget there are no funds allocated for ...

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The Takeaway

Transportation officials cause confusion at White House recovery plan conference

Thursday, March 12, 2009

WNYC
The president stopped by a meeting of 49 state representatives gathered to discuss ARRA, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka "the stimulus bill") and got a big round of applause. But his aides were not treated so politely...

The White House called in a group of state representatives to discuss implementation of the stimulus bill — but several pool reports (see below) paint a picture of anxiety and confusion.

"You're giving governors a lot of responsibility to administer it, but we're not always kept in the loop," a representative from New Hampshire told Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Or take this exchange with Deputy Transportation Secretary Thomas Barrett (Another man asked how and why Maryland has already started transportation projects under stimulus, going back to the morning session's theme where some states are nervous they've missed opportunities to fund projects, or are behind the curve):

"They started using their own money," Barrett said.

"So we can do that?" the man said.

"If you have the money," Barrett said.

Then, following some back and forth...

"If there's confusion on it —" Barrett said, then was cut off by one of the state reps:

"There certainly is."

You get the idea. The full reports are worth a read and *bonus* there's a list of state representatives at the end of report #3.
Read More

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WNYC News

EPA's Lisa Jackson On a Return to Science, Transparency and the Rule of Law

Monday, March 09, 2009

Lisa Jackson with WNYC's Amy Eddings

Lisa Jackson with WNYC\'s Amy Eddings

Lisa Jackson, the new administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, recently made her first visit back to the metropolitan area since being named to the post by President Obama ...

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WNYC News

Harlem, Boroughs Win

Monday, March 09, 2009

Anyone who has been commuting from the Bedford Avenue L stop for the past 10 years must have noticed something funny happening. Not only has the platform, once pretty civilized, has become become painfully crowded, but when the train comes, there's no room to squeeze on. The nonpartisan think tank ...

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The Takeaway

Transit systems tunnel through the financial crisis

Monday, March 09, 2009

Transit systems around the country are facing higher fares, service cuts and layoffs; with little help from government agencies. Some are facing increased stress because of what once seemed like a win-win financing scheme called “sale-leaseback agreements.”

Rick Karr, a reporter for the PBS production Blueprint America talks about the situation. His two-part series begins airing tonight on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

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WNYC News

Republicans Release Alternative Budget Plans

Thursday, March 05, 2009

capitol
Senate Republicans were the first at the state capitol to release their alternative to Governor Paterson’s state budget, WNYC's Karen Dewitt reports from Albany.

The Senate Republicans, who are in the minority in that house by just one seat, rejected both Governor Paterson's dozens of new taxes and fees to raise revenues and a plan circulating in the legislature to raise taxes on wealthy. 'You can't tax your way out of this situation,' says Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos.

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WNYC News

Smith Demands Transparency on MTA Budget

Monday, March 02, 2009

(Getty)

(Getty)

The Brooklyn Bridge may not be for sale, but it's one of the East River crossings that has inspired haggling worthy of a Persian marketplace. And the latest back-and-forth between the Metropolitan Transit Authority and New York State legislature has taken us one step closer to tolls on all East River crossings that are currently free.

First, the transit authority said that a $5 per vehicle toll was the minimum it would have to charge to raise revenue and close its budget gap. Then political leaders like Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Mayor Bloomberg floated the idea of $2 tolls. And like a novice bargainer, the MTA agreed too soon.

Senate Leader Smith got suspicious.

This morning, he said the authority needed to agree to a full audit. 'You know they kept two books at a time,' he said.

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WNYC News

First Snow Day in 5 Years

Monday, March 02, 2009

It's a snow day today for a lot of kids. New York City public schools are closed today, as are many schools in the suburbs. Updated forecasts are calling for as much as 10 inches of snow in the city by the end of ...

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WNYC News

Hudson River Splashdown Wrecked Air Traffic Controller

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rescue workers assist a New York City Fire Department boat. (Getty)

Rescue workers assist a New York City Fire Department boat. (Getty)

Fearing US Airways Flight 1549 had crashed and no one would survive, air traffic controller Patrick Harten said he was an emotional wreck after the plane disappeared from his radar screen. Harten is speaking about the crash for the first time, as the US House holds a hearing today on what lessons the nation can learn from the averted disaster.

Harten recalled how he told pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to return to LaGuardia, then offered up a runway at Teterboro. Sullenberger replied that his plane was 'gonna be in the Hudson” and the rest of the “miracle” is history. Only Harten didn’t trust Sully’s flying prowess: “People don’t survive landings on the Hudson River,” he said today, “I thought it was his own death sentence.”

After the plane disappeared from his radar, Harten was relieved from his duty, saying he was in no shape to guide planes through the air. He said that moment was 'his lowest low.' He couldn't even speak to his wife, opting to send a text message instead: 'Had a crash. I'm not OK. Can't talk right now.'

Listen here for Harten's entire opening statement before the House Aviation Committee:


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WNYC News

Morning News By the Numbers

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Port Authority commissioners vote today on plans for a $375 million renovation of JFK runways

A $375 million runway renovation is on the docket for JFK international airport. Port Authority commissioners are expected to approve the plan when they meet today. Photo credit: BlueBusDriver ...

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WNYC News

Morning News By the Numbers

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

$2.5 billion - That's how much education aid Sen. Chuck Schumer says the city will receive from the stimulus.

3 -That's how many Trump casinos will continue to operate in Atlantic City, as bankruptcy proceedings begin for Trump ...

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The Takeaway

The stimulus and the states: California and Missouri await their funds

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

California is facing down a $42 billion budget gap and now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced lay offs of over 10,000 government workers and an immediate halt to all public works projects. All this while another state, Missouri, takes the lead in applying stimulus money to the ailing transportation system by having the first economic recovery act in the country already under construction. Pete Rahm, Director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, makes a stop at The Takeaway on his publicity push.

"I think this is important to also demonstrate to the country that the highway industry can be a factor in addressing the problems of the recession."
— Pete Rahm, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, on using stimulus funds for the state's highways

Here's the Missouri Department of Transportation's stimulus wish list:

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The Takeaway

Get on a bus, gus: The nation is heading towards a transit crisis

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Despite the eight billion dollars the stimulus will pump into the nation’s transit infrastructure, local transportation agencies around the nation are in for a potentially devastating year. For the details of this looming crisis we turn to Rick Karr, a correspondent for Blueprint America at PBS.

For more, check out Blueprint America's website complete with an interactive map of the economic crises facing urban transit systems. And don't forget to watch NOW on PBS - with Blueprint America - as they travel to North Carolina to see what the future holds for mass transit in these troubling financial times.

How is the stimulus going to develop infrastructure in your city? Follow the dollars online and tell us how the stimulus plan is playing out in your community. We're sharing your stories online and on air, and we'll continue the investigation with your help.

ShovelWatch is a joint project of the non-profit investigative outfit ProPublica, the morning news program The Takeaway and WNYC, New York's flagship public radio station. With investigative reporting, interactive features and help from y

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