When yesterday’s news broke that the state would reduce its funding commitments to the MTA by $140 million, the F word emerged. Two MTA Board Members mentioned fare hikes as a way to meet any potential budget gaps brought on by the latest round of state cuts. Jay Walder, the MTA’s CEO and chairman, downplayed those fears.

Walder, talking after a hearing on the MTA’s ambitious 2010-2014 capital plan, stressed the agency’s commitment to its current plan. He did, however, hedge his bets. “It is my intent to stay with the schedule of fare hikes that was agreed with the Legislature in May, which does not call for a fare hike in 2010,” Walder said to reporters. “It is my intent to stay with that.”

By using “intent,” Walder is certainly keeping the option to raise fares on the table, but he stressed the MTA’s need to streamline their internal operations. “We have a responsibility now to be able to try to show how we can tighten our belt and how we can do things more efficiently and productively,” he said.

If the agency begins to run low on cash, as Michael Grynbaum and Colin Moynihan noted, the MTA will have few options. The decision to eliminate station agents system-wide saved just a few million dollars. To find $140 million worth of service cuts would result in a death blow to efficient subway service. Hopefully, the economy will hold, and we will be saved a small fare hike before a larger one arrives, as scheduled, in 2011.

Meanwhile, as the bad news from Albany overshadowed Walder’s appearance in front of the State Senate on Thursday, the MTA head tried to forge ahead with his vision to bring technological innovations to an agency sorely lacking in that field. “I have to tell you, when I first arrived at the MTA, people kept telling me the MTA doesn’t do technology,” Walder said. “Well, that’s simply not acceptable.”

The State Senators were far more skeptical and questioned the need for basic transit technologies such as train and bus arrival boards. Sen. Craig Johnson, a Democrat from North Hempstead called these clocks “a very nice idea” but was otherwise dismissive. “New Yorkers, whether you’re a suburbanite commuter or you live in the five boroughs, have been living without time clocks for a number of years,” Thompson said. “It seems a little bit like a luxury.”

According to our elected officials, then, a modern transit network and up-to-date infrastructure technology is a luxury. No wonder it has become a struggle to secure sensible funding for public transportation in New York.

More ominous, though, were Senate warnings about the MTA’s proposed $28.8 billion five-year capital plan. For the first time since these capital investments dragged the MTA out of the mire of the 1970s, the Senate does not know how it will fund a proposed five-year plan. The agency has secured money for all but $10 billion, but that gap represents a third of the planned spending. “Do you have a way to come up with the $10 billion? I don’t think Albany is coming up with $10 billion,” Johnson said.

For the MTA, a less-than-fully funded plan will lead to some serious capital soul searching. The next five-year plan includes money for the East Side Access project and another $1.5 billion for Phase I of the Second Ave. Subway. The MTA simply cannot cut those projects. The Second Ave. Subway, in particular, has burned through too much money, has taken too much time and has disrupted too many lives for the MTA to yet again seal up Second Ave. without a subway underneath it.

So we are left with another sorry reflection on the state of politics and economics in New York City: no money for transit; no will to explore modern-day technological innovations; and no respect for the future development of the city. The cuts may come; the fare hikes will definitely come; and because the state will not adequately fund the underground engine that drives New York’s economy, the MTA is left spinning its wheels and begging, time after time, for more money.

Categories : MTA Economics
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The Holiday Nostalgia Train shown here in 2007. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

Lately, as part of an effort to remember the city’s transit past while providing for a neat way to get more people interested in the subways, New York City Transit has rolled out the Nostalgia Train with some regularity. These retrofitted and well-maintained vintage subway cars have made trips to and from Yankee and Shea Stadium during their final games and up to the Bronx for the playoffs this year.

Yet, through it all, December has, for the last few years, been a time for Nostalgia Train rides, and this year is no different. Transit announced this afternoon that the Nostalgia Train will be running along the V line from 2nd Ave. to Queens Plaza on Sundays in December. The train will operate between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. with trips leaving every 90 minutes from 2nd Ave.

“With a little bit of luck and good timing, riders will be able to catch a ride on this classic subway train at stations along the V line between Queens Plaza and Second Avenue.” Steven Feil, MTA New York City Transit’s Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways, said.

The train set will feature cars that were in service between the 1930s and 1970s. All have been maintained by Transit, and most are kept at the Transit Museum. Among the highlights are Car No. 100, an R1-type that was the first car ordered for the opening of the IND subway line; Car No. 484, an R4 made by American Car & Foundry that received a PA system and bulls-eye lighting in 1946; and Car No. 1575, an R7 that was rebuilt after a crash as the prototype for the R10. With wicker seats and ceiling fans, these cars are definitely curiosities as compared with today’s modern rolling stock.

Yesterday, in writing about the MTA’s plan to run vintage buses along 42nd Street, a few readers started debating the merits of these gimmicky holiday specials. Although running Nostalgia Trains and buses makes for nice photo opportunities, critics argue, they don’t do much to push transit forward. I believe that these trains serve as a draw though. By bringing out cars that look different and are evocative of the past, people are interested in transit. Even if just for a few hours, a heightened awareness of what’s happening underground is well worth it.

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  • In budget deal, state cuts $140 million for MTA · In October, when Gov. David Paterson announced a statewide financial crisis, he threatened to cut $113 million in state subsidies to the MTA. Yesterday, the state legislature passed their revised appropriations bill, and the cuts are worse than expected. The new budget — which you can view here — strips approximately $140 million from the MTA. “This is not good news,” non-voting MTA Board member Andrew Albert said to the Daily News.

    With the bad news came rumblings of a fare hike. The MTA does not plan to institute another fare hike until 2011, but with this unexpected dip in funding, no options are off the table. Mitchell Pally, another board member, said that the agency is “going to do everything possible to keep fares and service at the same level,” and just three weeks ago, Jay Walder pledged to avoid a 2010 fare hike. Yet, if an unexpected MTA budget gap opens up next year, the agency will have few options as the state tightens its purse strings. · (8)

MTAIGlogo In June, The Times reported on the MTA’s decision to eliminate its dedicated emergency response team. In November 2008, ABC News tracked a bunch of MTA workers who weren’t really working. In both instances, Barry Kluger, the MTA Inspector General, decided to investigate these allegations, and this week, he released his reports on these incidents.

Transit’s Emergency Response coordination lacking

Throughout the 1990s, New York City’s First Responders — Fire, Police, OEM — urged the MTA to streamline its emergency response team. It suffered from a lack of centralized leadership, poor communication and vague planning and operational standards. It took a delayed response to a track fire in 2006 to spur Transit into forming the Rapid Transit Emergency Response team.

In March 2008, the team came together with seven emergency response officers heading the emergency oversight. Then, in March 2009, as part of a cost-cutting measure, the MTA eliminated it and returned emergency response over to a rotating cast of managers. When the June Times article was published, Transit President Howard Roberts said he was still working to firm up a better solution that would also save the agency money, and MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger launched his investigation.

Nearly six months later, Roberts is no longer the head of Transit, and according to Kluger’s report, Transit’s emergency response protocols are still lacking. With new line managers and group general managers in place, the ERO teams are no longer sure to whom they should report. Kluger now calls for a clarification of Transit’s “emergency response function regarding the role of the ERO; training; communication; proximity response;
continuity of knowledge; reporting for duty; and equipment.”

“We also recommended that NYC Transit designate an emergency response coordinator to properly guide and facilitate the planning and implementation of emergency response activities through the reorganization of Subways,” the report, available here as a PDF, says.

In October, Roberts agreed to many of Kluger’s preliminary recommendations but not the one urging for a solitary emergency response coordinator. The IG report again calls for a streamlined leadership, better training requirements and more thorough communications controls.

Transit spokesman Charles Seaton told me the agency will be addressing these concerns. “In working with the Inspector General on the analysis of his report, we have already begun incorporating many of his recommendations,” he said in a statement. “[Wednesday was] the first day on the job for the new President of MTA New York City Transit and he will make it his priority to review the contents of the report. As always, our top concern remains the safety and security of our customers.” Better to resolve this one before we learn the hard way that Transit’s emergency response protocols are lacking.

Access schedules to blame for idle track workers; cost to agency $10 million

On the other side of the tracks, we have MTA work crews with a reputation for laziness. We’ve read stories of sleeping station agents and construction teams doing little work. The fault, it seems, does not lie solely with the workers. In a second report, available here, Kluger blames track access schedules for nearly $10 million in lost productivity for the MTA.

The problem here is one of scheduling. The daytime MTA work crews — approximately 455 total workers — are schedule for shifts that run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but because of the morning and afternoon rush hours, Transit limits track access to the four hours between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. This problem plagues workers schedule to work both in the tunnels and on the MTA’s elevated structures.

Furthermore, both communications and planning efforts suffer as well. Some workers do not receive daily assignments until two hours into their shifts, and they aren’t cleared to enter the tracks until even later in the day. For workers on site, tools and equipment arrivals “are not coordinated with the start of work,” the report says.

In the end, the Inspector General’s recommendations and Transit’s response to them will not be popular with labor leaders. The MTAIG urged Transit to schedule more work for weekends when track access is uninterrupted for the duration of the eight-hour shifts and called upon Transit to better formulate a “reasonably restrictive weekend leave policy.” While Transit endorsed shifting workers to weekend shifts, the agency was not keen on restricting its leave policy.

TWU officials responded with a less-than-conciliatory note. And who can blame them? After all, unions came about partly to enforce a work week with weekends and appropriate family time off.

“The answer” — to the MTA’s work schedule woes — “is not to punish track workers and our families for the MTA’s gross mismanagement,” John Samuelsen of TWU Local 100 said. “If the MTA moves to take track workers from our families on both Saturday and Sunday every week, there will be swift intervention from TWU Local 100.”

At a time when labor relations between the TWU and the MTA are tense, Transit is going to have to ask its workers to make a pretty significant time concession. I don’t see the union being too amenable to it.

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Vintage Bus at the Transit Museum Bus Festival, 2007

A vintage bus at the Transit Museum’s Bus Festival in 2007. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

As part of a holiday celebration, New York City Transit is running vintage buses along 42nd St. this month. These buses, which began running last Monday, will run through December during the week. A series of 1950s buses will run the route of the M42 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., surprising midtown workers and tourists a like.

“These buses are a living, breathing part of the city’s history,” Joseph Smith, MTA Bus Company president and Senior Vice President of Buses for MTA NYC Transit, asid. “Riding on these buses is a fantastic counterpoint to the vehicles we operate currently. It’s obvious that we have come a long way since the 1950s and, despite the charm of the older equipment, our customers are benefiting from major advances in bus efficiency, design and accessibility.”

Currently, Transit keeps 19 historic buses on hand. The one shown above is a 1917 wood-bodied double decker operated by the now-defunct Fifth Ave. Coach Company. Although that 90-year-old vehicle will remain up on blocks, so to speak, the MTA will roll out Bus No. 3100, a 1956 GM model that was the first air conditioned bus in the city; Bus No. 9098, a 1958 General Motors specialty that was among the first to feature fiberglass seats; and Bus. No. 2969, a GM from 1948 and one of the city’s first 40-foot-long buses.

Despite the old school wheels, don’t worry about digging out some dimes and nickels to pay the fare. As Transit said, everything but the fare box is original, and these buses will take MetroCards.

Stayed tomorrow for an announcement about the Nostalgia Trains running throughout the month of December.

Categories : Buses
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SIRLogo Earlier this year, the cars that run along Staten Island Railway, the city’s loneliest train route, came back from the Coney Island railyard all prettied up. To go along with a rehab, the cars all received new logo bullets to strengthen their ties to the SIR. That’s probably the best news to come from this railway all year.

In an article that reads like a laundry list of bad news, Maura Yates from the Staten Island Advance went through the trials and tribulations of the SIR earlier this week. We start with ridership.

More than any other MTA-run train line in the city, the Staten Island Railway is very dependent on the economy. Because the line doesn’t offer up any connections off of Staten Island besides at the ferry terminal where boats head to Lower Manhattan, when demand for access to Wall St., when firms stay laying off workers, ridership drops. After serving a record 4.4 million passengers in 2008, ridership is down six percent through 2009.

To make matters worse for Staten Island, soon more riders will have to pay. Currently, passengers can travel for free between Tottenville and Tompkinsville with fare collection at the ferry terminal only. In January, to combat the rising number of passengers who walk to and from Tompkinsville, the MTA will begin fare collection efforts at the railway’s second most northern station. Whether or not this will negatively impact ridership remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Yates profiles a few projects bogged down with problems:

Unveiled with much fanfare in 2007, a $1.75 million security monitoring system, including surveillance cameras and a push-button intercom on the wall of the platform waiting area, was first installed at the Old Town station in Grasmere, the site of a brutal mugging in 2005. Funded by City Councilman James Oddo and former state Sen. John Marchi, the system was originally expected to be rolled out to all stations along the 15-mile route by the end of this year.

The closed circuit television monitoring system is still functional, and has already been credited with at least two arrests, including a purse-snatching at Old Town, said Railway chief John Gaul. But plastic bags are now covering the intercom button, which was disconnected after problems with the fiber optic cables connecting the stations to a monitoring center at St. George. The project remains a top priority and the system is expected to be back up and running by next October, Gaul said.

Started in 2007, the project to re-tile the 60-year-old walls of the St. George station and lay a new terrazzo floor was sidelined after it was determined the aging floor needed to be reinforced after decades of pounding by commuters. Borough President James Molinaro offered $1 million to assist in the rehabilitation, to modernize the rail station to match the new ferry terminal upstairs. “A year from now, the rider should experience a seamless transition,” Gaul said.

One day, perhaps, the subway will reach to Staten Island and offer up a speedier ride to the rest of New York City. A harbor tunnel would certainly qualify as a megaproject. For now, though, the Staten Island Railway is suffering through the same problems delays and technological upgrades as other ongoing subway projects. Alas.

Categories : Staten Island
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Work continues below ground along Second Ave., but is the SAS a true megaproject? (Source: MTA Presentation to CB8, Nov. 30, 2009)

The Second Ave. Subway is not a megaproject. Phase I, the current line under construction, is a 30-block extension of a preexisting subway line that will cost nearly $4.5 billion and take nearly a decade of continual construction to complete. Then, the MTA will have to go back to the drawing board to fund and build Phases II, III and IV. Maybe by the mid-2020s, a subway line will span the entire north-south reach of Second Ave.

For the residents of Second Ave., local subway construction is a nuisance. Station entrances and unsightly ventilation structures make this project seem larger than it is, and a walk along Second Ave. does nothing to dispel the notion that building even part of a subway line is a major undertaking. Yet, the initial investment is small compared to true megaprojects, and the piecemeal approach makes for a project of good size in New York City. That, though, is because the city no longer builds much on a grand scale. Do we actually miss Robert Moses? Do we need someone to wield Moses-like power? Or are we doomed to a century of big-but-mega projects that run over budget and take to long to complete?

In The Times this weekend, Louis Uchitelle explored the end of the megaproject in the United States. With the Big Dig finished, no one is building a truly massive public work. As rapid transit goes, streetcars are the wave of the future. Elsewhere, the Metro in Washington, D.C., finished up earlier this decade, and the last major BART expansion in the Bay Area wrapped in 1997. Uchitelle — who notes that construction along Second Ave. “proceeds unhurriedly” — views this dearth of megaprojects through the prism of the economy:

So what are we missing, exactly? Huge public works — or more precisely, their historic absence — didn’t cause the recession any more than their renewal would quickly draw the country out of it. But their effect on the economy is almost always noticeable if not easily measured. Some economists argue that the continual construction of new megaprojects adds a quarter of a percentage point or more, on average, to the gross domestic product over the long term. Again, cause and effect aren’t clear, but the strongest periods of economic growth in America have generally coincided with big outlays for new public works and the transformations they bring once completed.

If their absence creates a void, particularly in a recession, what can fill it?

His answer is a stimulus focused around megaprojects. He sees a country with high-speed rail stretching from coast to coast and with cities building again. Jebediah Reed at the Infrastructurist is pondered this very question. Why hasn’t America, without a Moses to dictate and bulldoze, to unnecessarily plow over homes, parks and neighborhoods, learned to build megaprojects? New York, in particular, is afraid of putting too much development power in the hands of one person. As the response to the Empire State Development Corporation shows, nearly fifty years after Moses’ reign of terror ended, we as a city still do not trust those who seek to build unilaterally.

But on the Upper East Side, though, we see the extreme response to decades of Moses’ centralized power. We see a project that might suffer from too much community involvement and definitely suffers from a lack of political leadership. Even Phase I, a rather meek northward extension of the Q line, still needs $1.5 billion in funding, and most New Yorkers think that it will open when it opens whenever that might be.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the original IRT line opened in just four and a half years. The city might have been far emptier and less built up than it is today, but things got done. What has happened to those great megaprojects and the drive and political will to build them?

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With subway construction come neighborhood gripes. As the Second Ave. Subway continues what one reporter recently termed its “unhurried pace” toward completion, residents along Second Ave. are learning that life with subway construction and life with an eventual subway line isn’t as rosy as it first sounds. Today, we will explore two stories about life on the East Side and the real estate problems presented by the Second Ave. Subway. Part I, I examined the eight ventilation structures soon to appear on the Upper East Side. Part two focuses on station entrances.

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The planned entrance at 72nd St. is one of two that have come under community fire. (All images via the SAS Task Force report to CB 8. PDF file from Oct. 28, 2008. Click to enlarge.)

When planning a transit route, the entrance points can be quite vital to the way a neighborhood forms or responds to new stations, and a trip through New York’s subways show no uniformity in exit points. Some are in the front of trains; others in back; still others in the middle. Still other stations have entrances in both the front and the back or at two mid-way points along the platform.

For the Second Ave. Subway, the MTA has tried to maximize the area served by one station. All of the new stations will include two entrances — one in the front and one in the back. For instance, the 72nd St. stop, seen above, will allow straphangers to enter at 69th St. or 72nd St., thus minimizing the walking distance for subway-bound pedestrians.

Yet, despite these conveniences, some Upper East Side residents weren’t happy with the MTA’s design process and the lack of community input during the initial planning stages. All’s well that ends well for these Co-Op Boards though, and as Habitat Magazine detailed, the MTA was willing to work with community groups to respond to resident complaints. Bill Morris tells the story:

The original plan called for two entrances where a reasonable person might expect to find them – at the northeast and northwest corners of Second Avenue and 72nd Street. But in fall 2007, the MTA decided to move the northeast-corner entrance to the middle of the block on the north side of East 72nd Street, between First and Second Avenues. Not only that, the MTA proposed two mid-block entrances pro-tected by soaring glass canopies. That got the neighborhood’s attention.

“We accepted that there was going to be a subway stop at Second Avenue,” says Valerie Mason, vice president of the co-op board at 320 East 72nd Street, a 40-unit building erected in the late 1920s. “Then, literally overnight, the station entrances were moved from the corner to the middle of the block. They looked like two huge soccer goals. The MTA said they had encountered some problems at the corner. What I saw was an attractive nuisance and a safety hazard.”

…Phyllis Weisberg, a partner at the law firm of Kurzman Karelsen & Frank, filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of the co-ops at 320 and 340 East 72nd Street. Two co-ops across the street filed a similar suit in federal court. “The basis for the lawsuits was that under state and federal law, certain environmental impact studies have to be done and public hearings have to be held,” Weisberg says. “Five days after the [2007] public hearing, the MTA said they were moving the entrance. They did that without studies or a public hear-ing.”

As momentum grew, neighborhood efforts coalesced into a successful lobbying effort. Residents made their concerns heard at Community Board meetings with MTA officials and in correspondence with City Council members. In the end, the MTA’s Supplemental Environmental Assessment to the Second Avenue Subway Final Environmental Impact Statement, available here in full, focused around the original corner exits on 72nd St. The neighbors had made their concerns — design and safety worries and not NIMBY protectionism — heard, and the authority responded in turn.

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At 86th St., the residents are waging a similar fight but with less organization. The MTA hasn’t yet determined the location of the entrance at the northern end of 86th St. It had been originally planned to include within the building at 305 E. 86th St. but has proposed moving it to the north side of 86th St. east of Second Ave. The federal government has found no significant environmental impact in this change, but residents are protesting.

No decision has been reached on that entrance yet, and the MTA is open to neighborhood imput. Only time will tell if the residents at 86th St. can find common ground as those at 72nd St. did.

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Old is new again on the B61. (Photo courtesy of Lost City’s Brooks of Sheffield)

Back in May, New York City Transit revealed a practical plan to restore a nostalgic aspect of bus riding to the city’s fleet. Pull cords, they announced, were coming back in style. Gone would be the hard-to-find and expensive-to-repair magnetic “Stop Requested” buttons. Instead, my youth would return to the buses.

According to the MTA, this move was a cost-saving measure pure and simple. The yellow strip-and-button system costs $1056 per bus while a bell cord costs $293 and is easier to repair. Technology, it seems, is not without its high price tag.

In May, approximately 270 buses had been retrofitted with pull cords, and that number is up to around 500 by now. Over the weekend, Brooks of Sheffield, the proprietor of the Lost City blog, found himself on a B61 with the new pull cords and snapped a few pictures. With the familiar sign urging passengers to “pull cord to signal for stop,” Brooks enjoyed the experience:

I liked it. It was possible to call for a stop anywhere you stood or sat. You didn’t have to go searching and reaching for those buttons and magnetic strips. And my son thought it was infinitely more fun. My friend, though, thought they were stupid, and an invitation for vandalism. I don’t know. Though cords looks pretty damn tough.

I have to wonder: If it the technology wasn’t broken in the first place, why did Transit, in the early 1990s, spend so much money to upgrade something that just worked and wasn’t expensive to install or repair?

Categories : Buses
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With subway construction come neighborhood gripes. As the Second Ave. Subway continues what one reporter recently termed its “unhurried pace” toward completion, residents along Second Ave. are learning that life with subway construction and life with an eventual subway line isn’t as rosy as it first sounds. Today, we will explore two stories about life on the East Side and the real estate problems presented by the Second Ave. Subway. Please note that for all images, click to enlarge.

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We start at the corner of 2nd Ave. and 97th St. with a ventilation shaft pictured above. It’s big; it’s ugly; it’s windowless; it will lead to the eviction of some residents and businesses; and the people who live near it are not happy. Can you blame them? Look at the thing.

Of course, it serves a functional purpose as well. Around the city, various properties are mysteriously vacant. There’s an old building on 96th St. between West End and Broadway used by the MTA, and the Greenwich Village substation is an obvious. The Second Ave. Subway, though, will feature something new. A train line for the 21st Century, the SAS will no longer subject straphangers to hot and sticky platforms. Instead, glass walls will keep out the heat and allow for air conditioning to maintain a semblance of normalcy in underground temperatures.

Of course, with air conditioning comes the need for ventilation, and the MTA plans to build eight of these ventilation shafts of various shapes and sizes along the current 34-block stretch that makes up Phase I of this subway line. Yesterday, The Real Deal explored residents’ reactions to these neighborhood eyesores. Some of these buildings, reports Sarah Ryley, are going to be up to nine stories high, and while others fit into the neighborhood, most stick out like sore thumbs.

Stanford Eckstut, an architect who helped PATH design its ventilation shafts, called the MTA’s versions behemoths with facades resembling “an improved parking garage.” He said, “These are buildings that are going to last forever; they should be contributing to the street scene. They should not just be a wrapping to hide mechanical things.”

Thomas Nobel, a co-op owner at 69th St. which, according to Ryley, is next to the largest of the structures, bemoaned them too. “It’s going to be a real detriment to the neighborhood,” he said. The MTA has yet to release renderings of the planned nine-story ventilation shaft for the 69th St. spot.

Still, Ryley continues, most Upper East Siders are willing to pay the cost:

Some Upper East Side residents are wary of locking horns with the MTA, fearing that a protracted legal battle would delay or kill the subway project. Instead — through elected officials, civic groups and the law firm Herrick Feinstein — they have attempted, with some success, to negotiate behind the scenes.

“People in the Upper East Side want this subway. When it’s finished, all in all, it’s going to be a great boon to the neighborhood,” said Noble, who is also an architect. “I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to have the process grind to a halt yet again.”

The fact that the structures need to be built is nonnegotiable — they are needed to house utilities, smoke evacuation systems and emergency exits, said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, noting that sidewalk grates now violate the city’s building code.

And indeed, as Ryley reports, the MTA has been very willing to negotiate on height. Some groups have gotten 50 percent reductions in the heights of these ventilation shafts, and the MTA that the renderings which I present below are simply plans. Nothing is set in stone, and there is still plenty of time for the MTA and the Upper East Side to work together to build community-friendly structures that don’t overwhelm the sidewalks.

In the end, some residents are concerned about property values, and one real estate assessor says these people have reason to be. He claims the few properties directly abutting these structures could see a decrease in value, but that overall, property values on the Upper East Side should increase by 15 percent due to the added convenience of a nearby subway line. That’s a trade off most should be willing to make.

After the jump, more images of the planned ventilation shaft. All are courtesy of the MTA. Click to enlarge. Read More→

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