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World Trade Center

WNYC News

Beam Signed by Obama Placed at WTC

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A steel beam that was signed by President Barack Obama in June has been lifted into place on the 104th floor at One World Trade Center.

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WNYC News

Pres. Obama Visits WTC Site

Thursday, June 14, 2012

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama got a first hand look at the skyscraper being built at the site of the World Trade Center.

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WNYC News

WTC Sphere to Get New Temporary Home, Unclear Where

Friday, May 11, 2012

A spherical sculpture that endured the Sept. 11 attacks at the World Trade Center is close to getting a temporary new home that will keep it in the public eye, officials said Friday, but they wouldn't say where just yet.

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The Takeaway

Meet 1WTC, New York's New Tallest Building

Monday, April 30, 2012

If wind speeds aren’t prohibitive Monday, a steel column will be lifted on top of the existing framework of 1 World Trade Center, making it New York’s new tallest building. WNYC digital producer Stephen Nessen spent a lot of time on the site of 1WTC this summer. He explains what it took to make a structure this massive.

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WNYC News

Community Complains About WTC Site Security Plan

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An extensive police plan to safeguard the World Trade Center site in New York City against vehicle-borne bombs is being criticized by residents.

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Transportation Nation

Two More Ex-Governors Say Port Authority Has Long History of Problems

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An iron worker atop One World Trade Center (photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Two more Governors are speaking out against last week's audit of the Port Authority.

Former Governor Elliot Spitzer was Governor from June 2007 until March 2008. He says the latest Port Authority audit by Navigant Consulting was unfair to his successor Governor David Paterson and Paterson's pick to lead the Port Authority, Executive Director Chris Ward.

That audit sharply criticized the Port Authority, and, by implication, Ward, who led the bi-state agency until this fall. But Spitzer says Ward himself cut through a thick knot of problems.

"Chris cut through a great deal of it with deadlines that were imposed upon him, some legitimately, some for political purposes -- and got things moving The effort now to revisit and repaint that picture is unfair to Chris and inaccurate," Spitzer said in a telephone interview.

Spitzer's remarks back of those of his successor, David Paterson, who said in an interview that cost overruns at the Port Authority were in part driven by demands by New Jersey that every expenditure on the World Trade Center be matched by a similar layout across the Hudson.

Spitzer said Ward got the stalled project moving. He says Ward deserves credit for the on time completion of the Memorial that was the focal point for the global commemoration of the tenth anniversary.

Spitzer also said the Port Authority has become a fundamentally political organization.

"Inevitably over time organizations like that become dominated by politics, not substance. The Port has not escaped that," says Spitzer. "Overlay on top of that the reality of two states balancing and juggling competing political needs and you have clear opportunities for waste and outright corruption."

 

Former Democratic New Jersey Governor Dick Codey, who is now a state senator, is also backing his former cohorts accounts that the Port Authority has long been beset with problems.

Codey said during his tenure from 2004 until the beginning of 2006 he was frustrated by the lack of progress at Ground Zero. He said from his first-hand experience overseeing the agency it's bi-state nature slowed progress and drove up costs.

" I mean obviously it took way too long to get that done and that is the problem when you have a bi-state agency; one wants to do it their way, the other wants it their own way.

"The thing I was frustrated at was the lack of progress dealing with the World Trade Center site," Codey said in an interview. " You got to compromise and sometimes that compromise takes a very long time, and the money you thought it would take to rebuild just escalates."

Codey says the governors of both states, including himself, were too quick to let the Port Authority carry the huge cost of rebuilding the site. "I think if there is any criticism to be laid at any Governor is that we were not vigilant in going after Federal money because is really a monument to our country as opposed to New Jersey or New York. It was not new Jersey or new York that were hit that day. It was America, clearly."

Both Codey and Spitzer say that any meaningful reform of the Port Authority has to include ending what has become the standard practice of the Governors from both states appointing campaign contributors to the powerful Port Authority Board of Commissioners. They oversee the agency that generates more than $4 billion dollars in revenue annually and employs almost 7,000 people.

"Part of the problem is that we want people that are non-partisan and who are professionals and clearly we have gotten away from that," says Codey. " There is no question about it. People that are on these authorities are big donors. Whether that be on my Democratic side or on the Republican side. So I think both parties need to take a hit on this. "

Both former Governors say the Port Authority, originally established to facilitate the development of the region's Port and transportation infrastructure, has to get back to its core mission. Forays into so called "economic development projects" are examples of a diversion from that mission.

"Well you would think that Port Authority is running the bridges and tunnels and that would be it," says Codey."These economic things that came about maybe 15 years or so, why? I don't understand. You are supposed to be doing the infrastructure that binds us together. And yet we have gone away from that. Economic development is really the federal government and the state's role."

After signing off on controversial toll and fare hikes Governors Christie and Cuomo called for a first of its kind internal audit of the bi-state agency that was first created in 1921. The audit found that the agency had more than doubled its debt from $9 billion to $21 billion in just ten years while boosting the compensation for its own workforce by 19 percent over the last five.

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Transportation Nation

Port Authority Pushes Back on Scathing Audit, But Acknowledges Need for Reform

Thursday, February 09, 2012

(photo: Port Authority Chairman David Samson address the media (Janet Babin/WNYC)

UPDATED WITH MORE ON PA STATEMENTS ON WTC & TOLL HIKES (READ A BIT INTO THE POST) The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is defending the expanded costs for the World Trade Center project, but it also admits it needs to become leaner and more transparent.

The agency addressed the project’s costs at its first public Board meeting since an outside audit released earlier this week.  The interim report revealed that costs at the World Trade Center project had ballooned to $15-billion dollars, up from about $4-billion in 2008.

But Port Authority Chair David Samson said the figures did not reflect cost overruns at the World Trade Center.  “The numbers that provide an increase in the original cost estimate were not on cost overruns, and they were not over budget....there was a cost estimate increase,” said Samson.

The Board said that the project’s expanded costs were simply not included in the original cost estimates created in 2008.  “They were mostly costs associated with One World Trade Center and retail, like tenant improvement costs, financing costs, and leasing commissions,” said Vice Chairman Scott Rechler.  He said these were things that would normally be included in a project cost estimate.

The Board said any cost overruns at the World Trade Center site were due to expanded work on the transportation hub, and the accelerated speed of the project.  Some work was fast tracked in order to complete the 9/11 memorial in time for the ten year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The audit, by Navigant Consulting, was commissioned by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and NJ Governor Chris Christie after the Board voted to increase bridge and tunnel tolls last August.  Board Chair  Samson said those toll increases are here to stay.  He also maintained the toll revenue is not linked in any way to the World Trade Center project.  “There was never a statement made that linked the toll increase to paying for the World Trade Center redevelopment,” said Samson.

(That's actually not accurate.  An August 5, 2011 press release announcing the proposed hike specifically cited "the overall cost of WTC rebuilding" as pressuring the authority's finances.  "Faced with three unprecedented challenges at once," the statement said – "(1) a historic economic recession that has sharply decreased revenue below projections, (2) steep increases in post-9/11 security costs, which have nearly tripled, and the overall cost of the WTC rebuilding, and (3) the need for the largest overhaul of facilities in the agency’s 90-year history – the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey today proposed a two-phase toll and fare increase to fully fund a new $33 billion ten-year capital plan, which will generate 167,000 jobs."

To be sure, after being sued by the AAA, the Port Authority has maintained that no funding from the toll increase actually goes directly to the World Trade Center, a position the Chair restated Thursday.  Samson said said he "disagreed" that the Port Authority had raised the specter of WTC reconstruction as driving the toll hike, saying that press release was instead painting "a general picture of the financial position of the Port Authority." )

The audit also described the agency as dysfunctional.

The Board blamed that on prior leaders.  Vice Chairman Rechler said that the last ten years at the Port Authority have been “destabilizing.”  The agency lost 83 employees during the 2001 terrorist attacks.  The Board went through seven different executive directors over the past ten years.  “We feel confident now that there’s new leadership,” said Vice Chairman Rechler.

The Board said it’s finding ways to move forward.  It pointed to a new joint venture with Westfield Group as a positive sign. “Our agreement with Westfield leverages public and private sector money that allows us to pursue our core mission: to stimulate job creation and economic activity for the New Jersey and New York region,” said Samson.

The Board said it will also focus on improving capital planning and financing for big projects.  It will also tackle employee compensation.  The audit found that the average Port Authority employee earns about $143-thousand dollars a year.  “We need to better align our compensation and benefits packages to appropriate public employee standards, “said Samson.

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Transportation Nation

Audit: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a "Challenged and Dysfunctional Organization"

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The World Trade Center site in late August 2011 (photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

More analysis after we've finished reading, but the first phase of an audit of the bi-state authority finds an 'organization at a crossroads' and says the Port Authority needs a top-to-bottom overhaul of its management structure.

More findings: " a challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, a siloed underlying bureaucracy, poorly coordinated capital planning processes, insufficient cost controls, and a lack of transparent and effective oversight of the World Trade Center program that has obscured full awareness of billions of dollars in exposure to the Port Authority."

Read the Port Authority Audit (pdf).

 

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WNYC News

Report Rips Port Authority for Ballooning WTC Costs

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The agency building the new World Trade Center has let costs get out of control, with the estimated price tag soaring nearly $4 billion over the last four years, auditors said Tuesday.

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WNYC News

Tenants Needed for Tower 3 at Ground Zero or Building Will Be Capped

Monday, January 23, 2012

Developer Larry Silverstein is facing a major problem in his quest to build an office tower at the former site of the World Trade Center: if he can't attract a major tenant for the building known as Tower 3, he can't build the 80-story skyscraper he envisions, and the edifice may instead be capped at seven stories.

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Transportation Nation

NY & NJ Port Authority Chief Expects Transpo Building Push Once World Trade Center Is Done

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Patrick Foye, head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (image courtesy of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s new executive director said he’s been thinking about the “peace dividend” he expects once 1 World Trade Center is completed in 2013 – when the authority will be able to turn its energies toward “tens of billions” in overdue transportation infrastructure overhauls.

Pat Foye delivered the keynote speech for a conference about globalization and the New York State economy. The event was held in Manhattan at the SUNY Levin Institute, which is named after Neil Levin, the former Port Authority chief executive who died at the World Trade Center on September 11.

Anticipating a building push, Foye criticized the environmental review process that big building projects must pass through in the New York City region. “There’s no field of human endeavor that benefits from a 10-year study," he said. “We can do this quicker and cheaper and have greater certainty in the process.”

Foye sat down for a Q & A after speaking at the conference.

What did you mean by the “World Trade Center peace dividend?”

1 World Trade Center is 50 percent leased, which is terrific. The building is on track to be finished at the end of 2013. It’ll be open to tenants in the first quarter of 2014. The Port Authority has commitments it made to the World Trade Center site and to Downtown Manhattan in general. Once those commitments have been met, the Port Authority will be able to take funds and increasingly focus them on airports and ports and the PATH train and bridges and tunnels—the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, the Staten Island bridges—all the incredibly important infrastructure that help drive the economy of the region.

We’ll be refocusing on the Port Authority’s core mission, which is critical transportation infrastructure that serves both states. That’s what the future looks like.

Your predecessor, Chris Ward, said the recent toll and fare hikes were not enough to do what the Port Authority needs to do while finishing the World Trade Center. Are you facing hard choices about delaying or canceling critical infrastructure projects?

Life’s about hard choices, whether you’re sitting at your kitchen table with your spouse or whether you’re in business or a big governmental entity like the MTA or the Port Authority.

I’m probably the wrong guy to ask because I’m an MTA board member and, a year ago, I voted against the MTA fare increase because I thought voting against it was the right thing to do.

But I think the toll increase was the right thing to do for the Port Authority at the time. I personally would not be advocating—and I’m not advocating—for higher toll levels now. I think that given the economy, that would not be an appropriate thing to do. And I know it’s not something that either Governor Christie or Governor Cuomo would support. It’s something the Board of Commissioners would not support.

So I think the toll and fare increase, which was a painful decision made in August, was at the right level.

How would you streamline the environmental review process for large building projects? Would you have less reviews, tighter deadlines?

Look, everybody is committed to environmental protection. I’ve got three daughters. I care a lot about the water I drink, my wife drinks, my neighbors drink. I feel the same way about the air we breathe and chemicals in the soil. That’s a given.

The question is, with unmet transportation needs in the hundreds of billions and unemployment as high as it is, isn’t there a way to shorten the process without compromising the environment?

I believe there is. I think President Obama, a president with a terrific environmental record, led the way on the Tappan Zee Bridge when he gave Governor Cuomo a waiver of the NEPA process. It’s one of only 14 projects in the country to get that waiver.

[NOTE: The Tappan Zee Bridge connects New York’s Rockland and Westchester Counties, accommodates 135,000 vehicles each weekday and is in constant need of repairs. An expedited federal review is supposed to speed construction of a replacement bridge by coordinating the permitting process.]

How does the state’s new infrastructure bank work and how will it affect the Port Authority?

The state and region’s transportation infrastructure needs can be measured in hundreds of billions of dollars. State and government budgets everywhere are under pressure. Taxpayers have reached the limit of their ability to give more.

The infrastructure bank is designed to come up with menu of projects: the Tappan Zee Bridge, perhaps the Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport, which is a Port Authority asset, perhaps the MTA’s East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway projects.

The bank would then combine the state and Port Authority together with sources of private capital: public unions, private pension plans, corporate pension plans, institutional investors. The state would not pay a fee but would co-invest, if you will.

Why is it needed?

We have an economic crisis. And I think people have generally have lost some confidence in the ability of Washington to address these concerns. We need to do something and we need to do it now.

The state has the projects and the expertise but doesn’t have the ability to borrow at those levels.

The governor has been very public about the importance of fixing the Tappan Zee Bridge, which is an incredibly important asset for the entire region. The state infrastructure fund will be looking at the Tappan Zee as among the first projects that it considers.

Is it like bonds in that investors can expect a set rate of return?

The infrastructure fund will afford investors the opportunity to invest in debt, perhaps subordinated debt, preferred equity, common equity or a common equity equivalent.

Every project is different. It’s got its own history, its own needs from a financing point of view. One of the advantages of the Tappan Zee Bridge, for instance, is it has a whole history of toll collection, and that can be plotted. That gives comfort and assurance to investors.

Projects with toll or fare revenue, that will help the financing get done.

(Some of the answers in this interview have been condensed.)

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Transportation Nation

Port Authority: No Transportation Funds Are Going to the World Trade Center

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holland Tunnel (photo by mrZiad.123 via Flickr)

The Port Authority didn't mislead anyone last summer when it raised the specter of a large price tag for rebuilding the World Trade Center while arguing for steep toll hikes for its Hudson River crossings.

That's according to Chairman David Samson, who says the authority's been clear:  it needs the money for its transportation network.

"Do I think there was consistency? Yes," said Samson after a Port Authority Board meeting Thursday. "Do I regret that somebody may have misunderstood  that, in some of the public statements? If there was misunderstanding, on the point of view of the listener, sure I regret that."

Samson's remarks came just hours after the AAA said in court on Thursday that the Port Authority's Interstate Transportation Network -- its revenue-producing bridges and tunnels -- is a cash cow. The motorist association says the Port Authority is using that money to pay for the financially draining World Trade Center rebuilding.

The Port Authority says the ITN is drag on its system and has operated at a deficit for half a century -  since the agency acquired the PATH train system in 1962.

That's the issue at the heart of a lawsuit wending its way through federal court. AAA is suing the Port Authority over toll and fare hikes which took effect in September. The judge heard arguments today and said he'd issue a written decision, but gave no timetable.

The Port Authority's ITN consists of  several bridges and tunnels, as well as the Port Authority bus terminals, the PATH train system, and trans-Hudson ferry service.

When the agency made the case for the toll hikes in August, it repeatedly talked about its 10-year, $25 billion capital plan. Forty-three percent of that amount -- or $10.7 billion -- is slated to go towards projects for the ITN, including hoisting the Bayonne Bridge, replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix, and modernizing the PATH system.

The next big ticket item, coming in at $6.9 billion, is the cost of rebuilding the World Trade Center. The Port Authority insists it's funding the WTC rebuilding through borrowing, federal grants, and insurance -- not toll revenues.

Samson wouldn't comment on any of the specific details of the pending litigation, but he disagreed with the AAA's assertion that the agency had misled the public into believing toll revenues would support the WTC.

"I think we were pretty clear about what we were talking about at the time," he said. "There's no doubt that in discussing the proposed toll and fare increase, we attempted to describe the overall financial condition of the agency. Inevitably, if you're going to be talking about the overall financial condition of the agency, you're going to talk about security that was added post-9/11 and the World Trade Center redevelopment site. There was to my knowledge, no reference, no specific statement, that said the proposed toll and fare increases were going to some other use, or some other place, other than what the executive director said was the integrated transportation network."

Pat Foye, the Port Authority's executive director, wasn't heading the agency in August. But he said the Port Authority's message has always been consistent. And the bottom line, he said,  was if the agency hadn't raised tolls this summer, "there would have been a drag in the amount of $3 billion dollars on the rest of the organization, the non-interstate transportation part of the organization. And the fare and toll increase reduced the drag, reduced the burden, on the rest of the organization."

 

 

 

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WNYC News

Judge to Decide on Challenge to Port Authority Toll Increase

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A judge said he would soon issue a written opinion after hearing arguments from AAA on Thursday claiming that the Port Authority is turning a profit from its bridges and tunnels and has no need – or legal authority – to raise tolls.

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Transportation Nation

Lawsuit Challenging Port Authority Toll Increase in Court Thursday

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Lincoln Tunnel traffic (Getty Images)

Thursday will be the first public court hearing in a lawsuit challenging the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's recent toll hikes. And at the heart of the dispute is whether the Authority is using that revenue to pay for the $11 billion World Trade Center redevelopment, not transportation.

Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the New York and North Jersey chapters of the Automobile Association of America, the group suing the agency, says the WTC -- "far and above the most expensive thing they are talking about doing"--is not a transportation expense. “Why should motorists pay for a half-empty office building that they’re having a difficult time attracting tenants to?” he said. The AAA wants a federal judge to block the Authority's toll increases.

In legal filings, The Port Authority says the money from the toll increase is being used to fund its Interstate Transportation Network (ITN), which consists of its tolled bridges and tunnels, as well as the PATH train and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. But back in August, a press release cited the cost of the WTC site as an example of the financial stresses it faced. And during the public hearings on the fare hike, that issue kept coming up -- as did the Authority's $33 billion, 10-year capital plan.  That was an emotional argument for politically unpopular hikes, coming as it did less than a month before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Neither New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, nor New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who control the Port Authority, have explained the shifting justifications for the hike.

The AAA says the ITN is in the black -- making the toll hike unnecessary. The Port Authority disputes this, saying in an affidavit (pdf) that "even with the tolls and fares increase, the ITN will still operate at a deficit and will likely require support from other facilities."

The Port Authority says it needs the toll revenues to fund its $25 billion 10-year capital plan and the lawsuit should be dismissed.

Last week a New Jersey assemblyman asked Governor Christie to investigate how the Port Authority is handling the toll and PATH fare hikes.

The Port Authority approved the toll increase in August-- one month before the tenth anniversary of 9/11-- raising the cash cost of crossing the Hudson River bridges and tunnels from $8 to $12. At the time, the agency's then-executive director, Chris Ward, said the hikes were "absolutely necessary to ensure the financial strength of the Port Authority and to maintain and grow the critical transportation infrastructure that serves the bi-state region."

In September, just before the increase went into effect, the AAA asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to block it. The DOT declined, and so the AAA brought suit.

AAA says it's relying on legal precedent from the last time it sued the Port Authority, which was over the agency's 1989 toll hikes. "We didn’t want motorists paying to subsidize the PATH," said Sinclair.  A court ruled against the AAA, saying the Port Authority could use toll hikes to fund transportation projects.

You can see the AAA's complaint against the Port Authority here (pdf).

For more TN coverage on the fare hike, click here.

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Transportation Nation

NJ Lawmaker Calls for Probe of Port Authority Toll Hike

Friday, December 02, 2011

Lincoln Tunnel Helix(New York, NY -- Annmarie Fertoli, WNYC) A New Jersey lawmaker is calling on Governor Chris Christie's office to investigate how the Port Authority handled recent bridge and tunnel tolls and PATH fare hikes.

The agency argued last summer that it needed the money to pay for redevelopment at the World Trade Center site — but state Assemblyman Gary Schaer said legal documents the agency filed last month made no mention of the site.

"That brings us to question what happened between August and now, as well as are commuters going to be asked to pay for the World Trade Center additionally," he said. "So there's tremendous confusion, and confusion is a nice word."

Schaer said he's hoping to hear back from the governor's office next week.

The story was first reported this week by The Star Ledger.

The legal filing came in response to a lawsuit by the AAA motorists group that argues the hikes are not "fair and reasonable," as federal law requires. Both sides are due back in court for that case next week.

In September, cash tolls jumped on the Port Authority's Hudson River crossings, including the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, jumped from $8 to $12.

The Port Authority released a statement saying:

“In August, the Port Authority informed the Governors of New York and New Jersey that the Port Authority was facing a severe fiscal crisis if it pursued its planned capital plan in the absence of a toll and fare increase. In such event, the Authority would be unable to fund the interstate transportation network projects, much less complete the long lists of other important non-network projects. Ensuring an additional flow of revenue through the toll and fare increase provides for funding of the interstate transportation network projects and makes available other Port Authority resources to complete hundreds of capital projects that are critical to the region's infrastructure needs, and the World Trade Center."

Neither Governor Andrew Cuomo's office nor Governor Chris Christie's office is commenting, referring all questions to the Port Authority. The governors jointly control the bi-state authority.

For a copy of the letter, click here.

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WNYC News

NJ Lawmaker Calls for Port Authority Probe

Friday, December 02, 2011

A New Jersey lawmaker is calling on Governor Chris Christie's office to investigate how the Port Authority handled recent bridge and tunnel tolls and PATH fare hikes.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Sales of Hybrids and EVs Slower Than Expected; Public Sector Workers on Strike in U.K.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top stories on TN:

In Its First Season, Boston Bike Share Exceeds Projections; Will Expand Next Spring (Link)

A Federal Grant Encourages Denser Development in San Francisco (Link)

New York DOT / Uses Haiku with Graphics / to Tame City Streets (Link)

VIDEO: Secrets of Grand Central Terminal (Link)

Striking public sector workers in the U.K. (photo by NASUWT Union via Flickr)

House leaders could hold a press conference Friday on their drilling-for-infrastructure proposal and unveil legislative text on Monday. (Politico/Morning Transportation)

Analysts see hope at American Airlines. (The Takeaway)

And: is bankruptcy 'business as usual' for domestic airlines? (NPR)

Sales of hybrid cars and electric vehicles haven't met automakers initial projections. (Marketplace)

The Port Authority won't be using new toll revenues to fund the WTC redevelopment after all. (The Star-Ledger, Record)

Public sector workers are staging a huge strike in the United Kingdom, affecting transportation in Northern Ireland and cancelling some flights in London. (BBC)

The funding plan for California's high-speed rail project is faulty, according to a new report released. (Los Angeles Times)

A recovering U.S. auto industry should add more than 150,000 new jobs by 2015, and most of them will be located in Michigan. (Changing Gears)

Four snowstorms and a hurricane kept more drivers off of the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, leading to $47 million drop in projected revenue. (Bloomberg News via NJ.com)

DC's Metro will unveil some new escalators today. (Washington Post) (Note: read TN's previous coverage of DC's broken Metro escalators here.)

Check out a map of the 643 transit projects nationwide. (Reconnecting America; h/t Politico MT)

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WNYC News

Look | Top of the World Trade Center in Fall

Thursday, October 27, 2011

WNYC began visiting the World Trade Center site in April 2010 and continues to document the construction of One World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial, the transportation hub and the people working on the site.

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Transportation Nation

Patrick Foye Named New Executive Director of NY-NJ Port Authority

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Patrick Foye (photo courtesy of the NY MTA)

(New York, NY) Chris Ward’s three-and-a-half year tenure as executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has come to an end. Patrick Foye, an aide to Governor Cuomo and a and former state economic development chief, is in.

Ward, 56, was appointed in 2008 by former New York Governor David A. Paterson. He will now be replaced by Patrick Foye, deputy secretary for economic development for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo announced the appointment in a press release today: "The Port Authority must meet its potential as a major economic engine that plans for the region and attracts business on an international scale. We must also improve its operations and maximize the value out of every dollar spent so that it is financially responsible and respects the tax and toll payers."

Cuomo also said he would propose rolling the Moynihan Station Development Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation into the Port Authority. The move was immediately endorsed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who has been an advocate of a redeveloped Moynihan Station.

Foye’s most recent job before that was deputy county executive for economic development for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. Foye left that job in January after Mangano decided, against Foye’s advice, to sue a state-appointed control board to prevent it from taking over the county’s finances. The county lost the lawsuit.

Foye, a lawyer who worked with Skadden Arps, is a former downstate chairman for New York’s Empire State Development Corporation. Since May 2010, he has sat on the board of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Unlike the other transportation post Cuomo has to fill -- head of the New York MTA -- Foye's appointment does not require approval of the New York State Senate.

In an interview, MTA board member Mitch Pally said Foye has been active in his role as the appointee from Nassau County in Long Island. “He’s delved into operating details of the system, communication issues with commuters and fare structure,” Pally said.

In a statement, Foye said "I am honored to be recommended for Executive Director of the Port Authority. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we have begun to re-energize New York's economy and pave the way for job growth in the state. I thank Governor Cuomo for this opportunity and look forward to working closely with him and the Board of Directors at the Port Authority on maintaining and improving the New York metropolitan region's vital transportation, infrastructure and economic development assets".

By many accounts, Cuomo and Ward never forged a close working relationship. For example, Cuomo’s schedules show no meetings with the Port Authority executive director during the first eight months of 2011. By contrast Foye, as one of the governor’s deputy secretaries, attended three meetings and a staff reception with Cuomo in the past six months.

Ward’s time leading the authority was marked by controversy and achievement: controversy over recent toll and fare increases on Hudson River crossings; achievement, primarily, for cutting through political and legal disputes to ramp up construction at the stalled World Trade Center site.

In particular, Ward sped up the building of the 9/11 memorial to insure its completion in time for the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. He also helped convince publisher Condé Nast to sign on as a major tenant at 1 World Trade Center, formerly known as The Freedom Tower.

Ward said renaming the anchor skyscraper was crucial to lightening the site’s symbolic weight to focus on more mundane concerns, like construction deadlines. “We were free before 9/11, we were free after 9/11,” he told the New York Times. “New Yorkers don’t need a tower named ‘freedom.’ New Yorkers need to know that we built it, that there’s a place to go and work.”

Ward was less successful in navigating the sharp shoals of toll and fare increases.

He initially proposed to raise toll rates on cash-paying drivers to as much as $15 during peak times, up from $8. He also wanted to hike the PATH commuter train fare by a dollar. What he got—after weeks of criticism from the governors of New York and New Jersey and excoriation from some of the public—was far less. On tolls, he got a $1.50 increase on most drivers beginning last month, and then 75 cents each year for the next four years. On PATH, he got an increase of 25 cents a year for four years.

Ward contended the hikes were necessary to fund the authority’s $33 billion 10-year capital plan, $11 billion rebuilding of the World Trade Center and $6 billion price tag for increased security since the September 11 attacks. Losing that fight left him feeling, in his own words, “burned."

The lower toll hikes means Foye will most likely have to consider cutting some projects from the authority’s capital plan. And that, in the words of the outgoing executive director, will mean: “You’re going to be stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. You’re going to be stuck on buses trying to get into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. You’re going to be stuck at LaGuardia and JFK because [they] don’t have enough runway capacity.”

In the 1990's, Foye, working closely with former U.S.  Senator Alfonse D'Amato, helped put together the takeover of the Long Island Lighting Company, or LILCO, by the Long Island Power Authority.  LILCO had acquired a huge debt constructing the Shoreham nuclear power plant, which was never opened do to safety concerns.

At the time, the deal involved the biggest issuance of municipal bonds in history.

Cuomo also announced the nominations of two new board members to the Port Authority:  James Rubin, a Clinton Assistant Secretary of State, who worked until recently as the executive editor of Bloomberg View, and Rosanna Rosado, the publisher and CEO of El Diario La Prensa.

 

Chris Ward’s three and a half year tenure as executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has come to an end. He announced his resignation today, saying “TK.”

Ward, 56, was appointed in 2008 by former New York Gov. David A. Paterson. He will now be replaced by Pat Foye, deputy secretary for Economic Development for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Foye’s most recent job before that was deputy county executive for economic development for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. Foye left that job in January after Mangano decided, against Foye’s advice, to sue a state-appointed control board to prevent it from taking over the county’s finances. The county lost the lawsuit.

Foye, a lawyer, is a former downstate chairman for New York’s Empire State Development Corporation. Since May 2010, he has sat on the board of the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In an interview, MTA board member Mitch Pally said Foye has been active in his role as the appointee from Nassau County in Long Island. “He’s delved into operating details of the system, communication issues with commuters and fare structure,” Pally said.

In a statement, Foye said, “TK.”

By many accounts, Cuomo and Ward never forged a close working relationship. For example, Cuomo’s schedules show no meetings with the chairman of the NY-NJ Port  Authority during the first eight months of 2011. By contrast Foye, as one of the Governor’s deputy secretaries, attended three meetings and a staff reception with Cuomo in the past six months.

Ward’s time leading the authority was marked by controversy and achievement: controversy over recent toll and fare increases on Hudson River crossings; achievement, primarily, for cutting through political and legal disputes to ramp up construction at the stalled World Trade Center site.

In particular, Ward sped up the building of the 9/11 memorial to insure its completion in time for the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. He also helped convince publisher Condé Nast to sign on as a major tenant at 1 World Trade Center, formerly known as The Freedom Tower.

Ward said renaming the anchor skyscraper was crucial to lightening the site’s symbolic weight to focus on more mundane concerns, like construction deadlines. “We were free before 9/11, we were free after 9/11,” he told The New York Times. “New Yorkers don’t need a tower named ‘freedom.’ New Yorkers need to know that we built it, that there’s a place to go and work.”

Ward was less successful in navigating the sharp shoals of toll and fare increases.

He initially proposed to raise toll rates on cash-paying drivers to as much as $15 during peak times, up from $8. He also wanted to hike the PATH commuter train fare by a dollar. What he got—after weeks of criticism from the governors of New York and New Jersey and excoriation from some of the public—was far less. On tolls, he got a $1.50 increase on most drivers beginning last month, and then 75 cents each year for the next four years. On PATH, he got an increase of 25 cents a year for four years.

Ward contended the hikes were necessary to fund the authority’s $33 billion 10-year capital plan, $11 billion rebuilding of the World Trade Center and $6 billion price tag for increased security since the September 11 attacks. Losing that fight left him feeling, in his own words, “burned."

The lower toll hikes means Foye will most likely have to consider cutting some projects from the authority’s capital plan. And that, in the words of the outgoing chairman, will mean: “You’re going to be stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. You’re going to be stuck on buses trying to get into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. You’re going to be stuck at LaGuardia and JFK because [they] don’t have enough runway capacity.”

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Selected Shorts

New York 'Lost and Found': A Special 9/11 Selected Shorts

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This special program recognizes the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the character of New York City. "UFO in Kushiro" by Haruki Murakami will be read by Ken Leung and "Lost and Found" by Colson Whitehead will be read by Alec Baldwin.

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