Sunday, September 14, 2014
Friday, June 21, 2013
Below Chicago--like most cities--lies a stack of subterranean secrets. WBEZ's always-enlightening project, Curious City, has delved into Chicago's underworld to bring us a quick lesson in the windy city's hidden infrastructure ... with drawings!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The new tunnels at Devil’s Slide on the northern California coast are finally open to drivers. This marks the first time cars have driven through a brand-new California highway tunnel in almost 50 years. The Devil’s Slide tunnels, officially named the Tom Lantos Tunnels, have been under construction since 2007 but have been a source of controversy since the 1970s.
When Highway 1 was built along the California Coast in the 1930s, it included a 1.2 mile stretch of road on an extremely unstable piece of hillside between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay called Devil’s Slide. During especially rainy winters, the ground would give way, causing the road to break and forcing drivers into a 45 mile detour. In 1995, the road was closed for 158 days.
Since the 1960s, California’s Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, had been looking for an alternative route. Caltrans proposed a highway bypass that would cut through the coastal hills. Locals and environmental activists were vehemently against the bypass, which would have been a larger freeway and split Montara State Park. The groups successfully used the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Coastal Act to postpone construction of the bypass through the 1970s and 80s. At the same time, the groups fought for a tunnel as the solution to the Devil’s Slide.
Caltrans had originally said that a tunnel would be too costly, but an independent study in 1996 showed that the tunnel was “reasonable and feasible.” In November of 1996, 74 percent of the voters of San Mateo County approved an initiative that stated a tunnel was the only permissible repair alternative to Devil’s Slide.
Construction began in 2007. The tunnels are over three-quarters of a mile long, with a total of 32 ventilation fans. The project’s cost of $439 million was fully funded with Federal Emergency Relief money, secured by U.S. Representative Tom Lantos, the tunnel’s namesake.
In a press release, Brian Kelly, the acting secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, praised Caltrans and the other groups that worked to make the tunnels a reality.
“Ingenuity, will, and perseverance combined to get this project done. The new tunnels are state of the art structures that blend well into the beautiful, natural surroundings on this stretch of Highway 1,” he said. “Thanks to the work of the men and women who dedicated themselves to completing this project, motorists and emergency responders will have a safer journey from this day forward.”
Friday, March 01, 2013
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) It happens at the stroke of midnight on Saturday: fares go up for riders of subways, buses and express buses in and around New York City, and for drivers who use the NY Metropolitan Authority's eight bridges and tunnels. Fares also jumped for riders of the authority's commuter trains.
It's the fourth time in five years that the MTA has raised fares. The base fare will rise from $2.25 to $2.50, and the pay-per-ride bonus drops from 7 to 5 percent, but kicks in after five dollars instead of the previous ten dollars.
The weekly unlimited ride card goes from $29 to $30, and a monthly pass jumps from $104 to $112.
Riders will also be charged a dollar fee to replace a Metrocard, except if it's damaged or expired. Metrocards can now be refilled again and again with time, dollar value, or both. That means riders can add days to an unlimited card and use the cash on that card to connect to an express bus, the PATH Train or the AirTrain, something that was not possible before.
Long Island Rail Road and MetroNorth riders are also feeling the pinch. The NY MTA says most ticket prices are going up about 8 or 9 percent.
Carol Kharivala, of New Hyde Park, said she only travels to Manhattan once or twice a month. Her senior round-trip ticket went from $10 to $11. Kharivala, who is retired, said the increase won't effect her travel plans, but that the hikes are likely more difficult for daily commuters.
"It does make it more difficult for people that are working because the money they put in the bank is not earning very high interest, and their salaries are not going up, either," she said.
Daily commuter Anthony Fama, also from New Hyde Park, agreed. His monthly fare jumped about $20. "I saw the rate went, if I remember the numbers correctly, from $223 to $242, which is, I guess a little bit more than 8 percent," he said. "Last time I checked, cost of living increase was a lot less than that."
Fama also thinks the hikes are unfair for commuters who don't have any other options. "To take multiple subways or buses, express buses, wouldn't make sense for somebody who puts in more than an eight hour day," he said.
The fare hikes have some commuters thinking about other options.
Chris Barbaria commutes from Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, to a carpentry job in Babylon, on Long Island, once a week. He said he's now considering biking the distance, even though the ride would take more than two hours.
"I carry tools and stuff, so it's a long haul, it's about 40 miles out there," he said. "I would certainly ride out, it's just going to add to my commute." Barbaria also said he's surprised by the cost of monthly tickets.
"When I was a kid I used to go to school in the city, and my round-trip monthly was $74 from Lynbrook," he said. "I understand now it's over $250 from Lynbrook, which is insane to me."
--with Annmarie Fertoli
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
By Jim O'Grady
The New York City subway system has 842 miles of track, making it the largest in North America. And there's even more to it than riders see: dozens of tunnels and platforms that were either abandoned or were built but never used. They form a kind of ghost system that reveals how the city's transit ambitions have been both realized and thwarted.
Monday, August 15, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - WNYC) The New York-New Jersey Port Authority will hold public hearings tomorrow on a proposal for steep toll and fare hikes that could take effect as soon as next month. The increases were announced ten days ago, with a vote by the authority's Board of Commissioners scheduled for August 19. But first, riders and drivers will have a chance to express their feelings about PATH trains costing a dollar more per ride and Hudson River bridges and tunnels going up to 15 dollars per round-trip.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie call the proposed hikes "indiscriminate and exorbitant," though it's an open question about whether they will accept a scaled-down version. (A New York Times editorial was hardly alone in characterizing the initial remarks as "gubernatorial theatrics.")
Neither governor is ruling out the toll hikes altogether.
Other editorial writers have labeled them "grotesque" and "a heavy burden." And Automobile Association of America spokesman Ron Sinclair told TN that, "Our members are contacting us and telling us it’s very unfair, it's outrageous, it's a burden that's going to be tough to bear during a difficult economy."
But labor unions, and business and trade organizations, say the hikes are needed to keep the port and airports running, bridges standing and progress moving on a rebuilt World Trade Center.
The Port Authority says they're needed because it's been hit with a triple-whammy: a recession that has caused lower volumes of toll-paying traffic on its crossings to the tune of $2.6 billion; post-9/11 security costs that have driven up the budget of the World Trade Center rebuilding; and "the need for the largest overhaul of facilities in the agency’s 90-year history."
Tomorrow, the authority will host hearings in New York and New Jersey to learn whether their customers think that's worth the increased tolls and fares they may soon be required to pay.
Here is the Port Authority's August 16 public hearing schedule:
Newark Liberty International Airport
1 Conrad Road
Building 157, Bay 3
Newark, NJ 07114
Port Authority Technical Center
241 Erie Street, Room 212
Jersey City, NJ 07310
Port Ivory/Howland Hook
40 Western Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10303
Port Authority Bus Terminal
625 8th Avenue
Times Square Conference Room – 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10018
George Washington Bridge Administration Building
220 Bruce Reynolds Way
Fort Lee, NJ 07024
Holland Tunnel Administration Building,
13th Street & Provost Street
Jersey City, NJ 07310
George Washington Bridge Bus Station
Lower Level Conference Room
New York, NY 10033
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Port Authority Administration
Building 14, 2nd Floor Conference Room
Jamaica, NY 11430
Monday, November 15, 2010
By Kate Hinds
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Queens Midtown Tunnel - which links that borough to Manhattan, and transports not only vehicles, but elephants (well, on one day a year), turns 70 today. Below is some information that the MTA sent out about the construction of the tunnel.
It took 20 years of lobbying and planning and four years of hard work but on Nov. 15th, 1940, the Queens Midtown Tunnel, linking Manhattan and Long Island City, Queens, opened to the public. At the time it was the largest, non-federal public works project in the nation.
The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel--For 80 Years, the Only Place You Can Drive Underwater Between Two Countries
Thursday, November 11, 2010
By Kate Hinds
(Detroit -- Rob St. Mary, WDET) From his office above the toll plaza, Neal Belitsky, the general manager of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, has a commanding view of downtown Detroit. But this morning he stares into a computer monitor displaying dozens of camera views of the almost mile long international crossing.
"This is the pillar section down the tunnel, and these are all pan tilt zoom cameras," he said, explaining what we're looking it. "They're fine enough that if someone dropped a quarter on the roadway we'd be able to see it. And they are all digitally recorded."
Belitsky runs the tunnel's day-to-day operations for both owners - the Cities of Windsor (Canada) and Detroit. Although both municipalities now have a stake in the tunnel, it didn't start out that way. In the late 1920's, the border crossing was conceived as a for-profit competitor to the Ambassador Bridge. But that idea changed.
"What happened was folks back then who were granting the permits said you know, maybe we need to do something a little bit different from the Ambassador Bridge," Belitsky said. "So, where they got the rights in perpetuity, they told the tunnel folks they could go ahead and do that--but they could only have it for 60 years."
The tunnel was given to both cities in 1990--which means 2010 marks the 80th anniversary of this unique structure. But why is it so unique?