Transportation Nation

Vermont Highway Finally Reopens After Hurricane Irene

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Route 107 in Vermont was washed away by Hurricane Irene. (photo from You Tube video by willebegin)The final stretch of road destroyed by Hurricane Irene is set to reopen this week, four months after the Hurricane wrought havoc on transportation infrastructure all along the Northeast.

Route 107, a major east-west artery follows the course of a river that gushed over its banks during the storm, taking the road with it. You can see video of the damaged Route 107 and other damage  here.

The AP reports: "In a storm that left a dozen Vermont towns cut off from the outside world for days, damaged or destroyed more than 500 miles of roads and 200 bridges, and reshaped much of the low-lying countryside, it was the Route 107 repair that posed the biggest single engineering challenge. The fix included 46 subcontractors and 20,000 hours of heavy equipment time."

Vermont Public Radio reports that rebuilding efforts of homes and other infrastructure is still underway, with some families who lost their homes living in RVs bracing for the cold bite of winter to come.

In the New York area, the Port Jervis line of the Metro-North Railroad took three months to repair. Both that, and the Route 107 rebuilding are evidence of the mounting price tag of climate-related costs for transit and transportation agencies.

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Port Jervis Line Reopens Monday

Sunday, November 27, 2011


The Port Jervis commuter line, cleaved in two by raging floodwaters roiled by Tropical Storm Irene, reopens Monday.  The August storm washed out 14 miles of track, and was the most severe damage sustained by a transit agency in modern history.


Transportation Nation

NYC Subway Riders' Worry: Service Slipping Back To The Bad Old Days

Monday, November 07, 2011

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York City Transit suffered its third derailment in six months on October 24, when two train cars on the 6 train jumped the tracks near the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall Station. That's the kind of major breakdown that tends to make riders wonder, could the subway be sliding backward toward the dark days of the 1970's? That's when crime and train breakdowns, among other ills, were common. And that was before a major investment in repairs and construction rescued it from the brink.

Amber Morgan, 42, has been riding the subway for 37 years. Standing on a platform at Union Square Station, she talked about how she'd seen the subway improve after a stretch of very lean years.

"It's better than it was in the ‘70s," she said. "I have memories of the subway when it was covered with graffiti and it was not safe. It's a different subway then when I was a kid."

But Morgan acknowledged she'd moved from Williamsburg to Manhattan because she and her husband didn't want to rely on the L train any more. And she worried it could get worse. "If they keep cutting the budget and keep raising the fare, less people will be able to ride it and it won't be as reliable," she said.

Budget cuts have made some things worse. Recent NY MTA data show a 20 percent increase in trains arriving more than five minutes late at the end of their runs. But New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast said major service disruptions — like those caused by derailments — are not worsening because of belt-tightening

"We do not think it's in any way related to budget issues or financial issues," he said. "We treat every derailment very seriously. I mean, I was here at a point in time twenty years ago, when we had 27 derailments a year."

Surprisingly, Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign agrees with Prendergast. He said the NY MTA's average of less than two derailments per year over the last five years is not bad. But Russianoff added delays and overcrowding are other matters.

"You know, it's not the bad old days yet," he said. "But you have to worry about going down the slippery slope."

There's reason for that concern. One big cause for weekday delays is overcrowding. Ridership is up since last year, when the MTA cut costs by eliminating and combining lines, and putting many trains on less frequent schedules.

Joe Sirefman, 81, was about to catch an uptown 1 train in the West Village an a bright fall afternoon. He's a native New Yorker who's ridden the subway his whole life. The increased crowding reminds him of what it was like to squeeze into a packed 6 train as a kid.

"I remember in the summertime hearing, 'Another shove, Madame, and I'll have to marry you,’" he said.

The MTA used to schedule its weekend and overnight trains to run often enough for every rider to have a seat. But with cutbacks, one in five riders is now expected to stand.  Factor in delays and cars can get crowded.

Still, there are bright spots.  A 1 train rider named Carol said things aren't as bad as before. "It's gotten better," she said. "The information that's given to us — the countdown clocks, the signs and all of that."

It seems that, if riders must be delayed, it helps to know for how long.

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The New Yorker: Out Loud

Rebecca Mead on staging F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rebecca Mead on staging F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."


The Brian Lehrer Show

Don't Toss it, Fix it!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Every Thursday in Brooklyn, a small gallery and reading room called Proteus Gowanus, tucked in the back of one of the old industrial buildings along the canal, opens its doors to those with broken lamps and bicycles, torn jeans or socks with holes. The weekly event is part of ...

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