World Trade Center Transportation Hub’s Future Hangs In The Balance

The fate of arguably one of the city’s most important projects in recent history hangs in the balance. The World Trade Center Transportation Hub is over budget, behind schedule, & most importantly faces an identity crisis on how it should look. The task of figuring out these issues & then some fall in the lap of Port Authority Executive Director Christopher O. Ward. David W. Dunlap of the New York Times’ City Room Blog looks at this entire situation in this report

With two weeks to go before he must make more than a dozen recommendations on how to get ground zero rebuilding on schedule and on budget, the executive director of the Port Authority said on Tuesday that he had not yet solved the linchpin problem: how to build the underground mezzanine of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.

The executive director, Christopher O. Ward, told the commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that he was still confident he would meet the Sept. 29 deadline for delivery of his report. But Mr. Ward, who can be disarmingly candid, acknowledged that his own deadline for setting deadlines had been perhaps “overly ambitious.”

What makes the mezzanine so critical is that its schedule dictates the schedule of the memorial, because one large corner of the memorial plaza is directly above the mezzanine. Construction of the mezzanine also affects the completion of Greenwich Street, which runs in front of the three office towers planned by Silverstein Properties.

Santiago Calatrava, the architect of the transportation hub, has called for a mezzanine with uninterrupted space, depending on long-span arches and cantilevers to avoid the use of columns. A second proposal, from a working group led by a Silverstein Properties executive, proposes standard column-and-beam construction and the insertion of another floor within the space. A third proposal, developed in-house by the Port Authority, would retain some of the spaciousness of the mezzanine, but also use columns and beams.

The key question is whether Mr. Calatrava’s seemingly exotic design can be constructed timely and economically.

Click here for the complete report.

In an earlier point I wrestled back & forth on what was more important in terms of getting the project done with a minimal design or going all out to represent the importance of this project. I ended up siding with the importance of getting the project done over taking longer & spending more on a more complex design.

I find it downright hypocritical that many riders & transit advocates desire to see the design by Mr. Calatrava’s used yet they are the same ones preaching at how times are tough financially. You can’t play both sides & expect not to be called out for it. The economy from the MTA to the city & state itself is in bad shape. Can we really justify the extra time & money spent for this project?

The answer is clearly no & this attitude of NYC needing some sort of architectural masterpiece for the world to fawn over is beyond ridiculous. This is not the time to play a game of showmanship when we have better ways & time to spend what limited resources we have. To say that this project is something that our transit infrastructure needs is without merit or in better terms shows a clear lack of financial judgment. A responder to the New York Times’ City Room Blog entry named Jonathan Katz said it best:

Get rid of the fancy architects. Just hire competent engineers and let them design and build it so that it performs its essential functions of moving people safely and conveniently, at the lowest cost possible.

He is right with this thinking as no matter what fancy name or design you have in mind, it is still just a “transportation hub”. Don’t let the masses try to spin this from what it really is….

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

Purchasing E-Z Pass Tags Will Be As Easy As 1-2-3

For years the MTA has made purchasing MetroCards convenient as they are available at many places outside of the system whether it be in a drug store, gas station, grocery store, etc…. Now they plan on bringing the same convenience to their E-Z Pass tags as starting by the end of the year, you will be able to purchase $30 “E-ZPass on the Go” at many locations including gas stations & pharmacies. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue has the brief report:

Getting an E-ZPass is about to get a lot easier.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels plans on selling $30 “E-ZPass on the Go” tags at corner stores, gas stations and pharmacies citywide – similar to NYC Transit’s MetroCard sales, officials said Wednesday.

“We are making it as convenient as possible to try E-ZPass because the more tags in use, the faster the trip through the toll plaza for everyone,” said acting Bridges and Tunnels President David Moretti, noting that 75% of motorists already use the technology.

Purchasers will have 48 hours to convert the new tags into permanent E-ZPasses by registering in an MTA account. If they choose not to, only $20 can be used for tolls, with $10 withheld as a tag deposit.

The new tags will be available by the end of the year.

Making the purchase of E-Z Pass tags more convenient is long overdue if you ask me. However lets focus on a good idea being implemented instead of never at all.

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

Mayor Bloomberg’s MTA Reps Balk At NYFD/NYPD Toll Proposal

Yesterday afternoon I wrote an entry about the MTA wanting NYFD & NYPD employees to pay for tolls like regular commuters while on duty. The plan which needs to be approved by the MTA Board would bring in approximately $10 million a year in added revenue. New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue first broke this story & is now back with word that Mayor Bloomberg’s MTA Board representatives are balking at the proposal. Here is his report:

Mayor Bloomberg’s four representatives on the MTA board are balking at a plan to bill the city for police and firefighter E-ZPasses.

“I’ll vote against it,” Jeff Kay, a mayoral rep on the board, said Wednesday after a Metropolitan Transportation Authority committee meeting. “The mayor has consistently said that the city doesn’t have the money.” The MTA wants the Police and Fire departments, and other city and state agencies, to link their now-free E-ZPasses to prepayment accounts just like private citizens and businesses do.

Cops and firefighters on duty won’t be delayed digging into their pockets for change at tollbooths, MTA officials said.

Bridge and tunnel officers would continue to usher cops and firefighters responding to emergencies through toll plazas, clearing aside traffic and opening gates if needed, MTA spokeswoman Catherine Sweeney said.

Click here for the complete report.

I still have to give this some thought before I can form a complete opinion on it. A big factor would be if the MTA would guarantee that no one would be held up during an emergency due to having to deal with toll payments. If they could, I would side with their idea of bringing in extra revenue by collecting the tolls. Considering the financial times currently in play within the MTA, any extra revenue that can be collected should be seen as a good thing.

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

TSTC Says The Lincoln Tunnel Needs A Second Exclusive Bus Lane

For the thousands of riders who depend on buses to get them from Upstate New York & New Jersey to Manhattan know, the exclusive bus lane in & approaching the Lincoln Tunnel is a blessing. The lane cuts travel time by up to 20 minutes when compared to using the non-exclusive lanes in & approaching the tunnel. Unfortunately the bus lane is only in effect during the morning rush going into New York. Evening rush hour commutes do not have the luxury of cutting their commuting time down even though the #’s suggest the lane would be even more useful in the evening.

This opinion has now publicly been stated by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign which took the time to look into the necessity of having a Lincoln Tunnel Exclusive Bus Lane. The TSTC’s Associate Director Veronica Vanterpool takes a look at the issue in her latest entry:

According to a TSTC analysis of data from the Port Authority, more cars leave New York City via the Lincoln Tunnel in the evening than come into the city in the morning. Yet, the Lincoln Tunnel Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL), which allows buses a faster lane through traffic congestion, is only in effect into NY and only during the morning rush hour. Buses headed back to New Jersey during evening peak times must contend with the same gridlock conditions that cars do, despite the environmental benefits of traveling by bus and despite the fact that bus passengers are the largest share of all commuters crossing the Hudson River into NYC.

Click here for the complete entry.

I used to live in Rockland County for 4 years & used the Red&Tan to reach NYC quite often. I definitely feel the TSTC has the right idea in calling for an exclusive bus lane for the evening rush. The traffic leaving New York can be downright horrific during the evening rush & riders face commutes that are 45+ minutes longer than it normally would be. The consistency with which these commutes occur should be a huge sign to showcase that a second exclusive bus lane should be seriously looked at.

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:

Most Train Friendly Administration Ever?

Yesterday afternoon Democratic Vice President Nominee Joseph Biden made a very bold statement. On a train ride from Washington D.C. to his hometown of Wilmington Delaware, Biden told a passenger

If we get elected, it will be the most train-friendly administration ever.

Ben Smith & Victoria McGrane of Politico have more in this report:

Victoria McGrane reports:

The man who wears his daily commute like a badge of honor, Joe Biden took the opportunity Tuesday to take some of the media with him on his Amtrak trip from D.C.’s Union Station to Wilmington, Del. TV and print reporters accompanied him, while the rest of the traveling press corps took the bus to his campaign stop in Media, Pa.

He hugged employees and shook hands up and down the aisle of the car he was seated in, according to the pool report.

“Hey, I’m the nuisance,” Biden told one of the pool reporters who expressed concern he was interrupting the candidate. Biden indicated the crowd of cameras and Secret Service agents around of camera people and secret service agents around him. “I used to ride this thing every day and nobody paid any attention.”

Click here for the complete report.

Transit advocates can only hope he really means what he says……

xoxo Transit Blogger

You might enjoy reading these related entries:
Page 449 of 590« First...102030...447448449450451...460470480...Last »