On Wednesday afternoon, for some reason, Gov. Andrew Cuomo swooped in for a transit vist. In a seeming unsolicited letter to MTA CEO and Chairman, Cuomo urged the MTA to form a panel called the Transportation Reinvention Commission in an effort to focus the MTA on its needs for the next century. The letter came at an odd time and with plenty of reasons to be skeptical, but maybe, if things break the right way, the MTA and New York State could turn this into a positive step.

As the letter notes, Cuomo sent this massive to the MTA because their next five-year capital plan is due before the Board for approval in September. That can’t be the impetus behind it though because it would show a complete lack of comprehension of the capital process. Last year, the MTA released its 20-Year Needs Assessment which feeds and informs the capital plan. Does Cuomo think the MTA is going to slap together some $30 billion, five-year plan in less than four months? Does he think this panel can convene and issue recommendations ahead of any work on this plan? I hope not.

But this skepticism aside, Cuomo’s basic idea isn’t a bad one. Here’s his letter:

New York faces a pressing need to prepare the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for tomorrow’s challenges. To adapt its system for a changing world, a changing state and a changing climate, the MTA has a unique opportunity to proactively redesign how it serves its customers. The MTA is scheduled to submit a Capital Plan this fall to identify investment priorities for New York’s mass transit network. While past Capital Plans have focused on maintaining and expanding the existing MTA network, New York needs the MTA to develop a reinvention plan to make our subways and our entire transit system ready for the challenges of the next century.

I am recommending the MTA empanel a Transportation Reinvention Commission to examine its network and develop a plan for the future. The Commission should include international transportation experts and be selected by the MTA. It should hold public hearings as it develops findings and submit a preliminary report to me in advance of the MTA Board’s scheduled Capital Plan approval in September.

We have been operating the same subway system for the last 100 years. The next 100 years, however, look radically different for New York. The clear evidence of a changing climate in our nation makes more major storms like Superstorm Sandy a real and present threat. Increasing population, demographic shifts and record ridership pose new challenges to operating and maintaining our existing mass transit network, meeting and exceeding New Yorkers’ expectations, and spurring the continued growth of New York’s economy. Already, there are more than 8.5 million riders – more than the entire population of New York City – using MTA trains and busses every day. This Commission needs to fundamentally reexamine our subway system to meet these needs and expectations.

Cuomo’s assertion that “we have been operating the same subway system for the last 100 years” could not be further from the truth. In 1914, the BRT and IRT operated a bunch of streetcars and subway lines without the connections we know today, and the IND routings were barely a thought. The opening of Brooklyn’s 4th Ave. subway was still a year away, and only the Joralemon and Clark St. tunnels brought subways from Brooklyn to Manhattan. So we have not been operating the same subway for 100 years.

Yet, the next 100 years do look different. The MTA has to modernize a system that is, at parts, 100 years old; it has to meet growing demands for transit within the preexisting population and the growing population at large; it has to combat rising sea levels brought about by climate change and the threat of future flooding; and it has to figure out a way to grow at costs that aren’t astronomical. It also has to be more aggressive in thinking big than the Straphangers Campaign who, as a response to Cuomo’s letter, called for more Bus Rapid Transit.

So Cuomo has urged the MTA to appoint “international transportation experts” to this panel. Maybe they can figure out why everything costs so much in New York. Maybe they can look at work rules and personnel padding, at costs and timelines and project management, to figure out a way to reign in this problem. We may be skeptical because of Cuomo’s record and attention to transit, but at the least, this panel deserves a chance to do something. It won’t inform the next five-year capital plan, but it could have a deeper impact further down the road.

Categories : MTA Politics
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Right now, a new tunnel is nothing but a line on a map.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over three and a half years since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unilaterally canceled the ARC Tunnel. Yet, it’s a decision that keeps coming back to haunt the entire region. Amtrak has proposed picking up the slack with their Gateway Tunnel, but that’s decades off. Now, questions have emerged concerning the region’s ability to cope with aging infrastructure and no replacement plans in place.

The latest comes to us from Amtrak. As the two Hudson River tunnels creep up there in years, the national rail agency has warned that age will become a major issue sooner rather than later. Amtrak’s chief put their life expectancy at “less than 20 years” and urged everyone involved to start funding — and then building — Gateway.

Dana Rubinstein had more:

The end may be near for the New York region’s cross-harbor rail tunnels, with no good alternative in sight. “I’m being told we got something less than 20 years before we have to shut one or two down,” said Amtrak C.E.O. Joseph Boardman at the Regional Plan Association’s conference last week at the Waldorf Astoria. “Something less than 20. I don’t know if that something less than 20 is seven, or some other number. But to build two new ones, you’re talking seven to nine years to deliver, if we all decided today that we could do it.”

Tom Wright, the Regional Plan Association’s executive director, described Boardman’s remarks as “a big shock.” “I’ve been hearing abstractly people at Amtrak and other people at New Jersey Transit say for years the tunnels are over 100 years old and we have to be worried about them,” he said. “To actually have Joe put something concrete on the table, less than 20 years … Within my office, there was a level of, ‘Wow, this is really serious.’”

In addition to age, as Rubinstein notes, Sandy damage is going to play a big role in this tale. The Amtrak tunnels, by some accounts, suffered approximately half a billion dollars in damage during the storm surge, but unlike, say, the Montague St. Tunnel, Amtrak can’t just take one of their cross-Hudson out of service for a few months to make repairs. That would reduce capacity from 24 trains per hour to just six, and as Amtrak owns them, the people who would suffer the most from single-tracking would be New Jersey Transit riders. Thus, it all comes back to ARC as without ARC, New Jersey Transit is beholden to Amtrak’s whims.

An Amtrak spokesman later tried to walk back Boardman’s comments. “As you know the Hudson River Tunnels are more than 100 years old and were filled with salt water during Super Storm Sandy, which can be very corrosive,” Craig Schultz said. “Amtrak is working with an expert to assess the condition of the tunnel structures since the storm, and that work is ongoing. I think the point Mr. Boardman was making in his comments at the RPA Assembly is that damage from Sandy accelerated what was already an urgent need for additional tunnel capacity between New York and New Jersey. We expect that the tunnels are going to need major rehabilitation, which can only happen with prolonged service outages permitted by a new tunnel.”

So where do we go from here? As with all of these major infrastructure projects, Gateway needs a champion, and right now, it doesn’t have one. It needs money, and right now, it doesn’t have it. Will we wait to fund it until it’s too late or will someone come to their senses before we have to live in an era when six trains per hour can cross the Hudson River? The clock is ticking.

NextStopis “The Next Stop Is…”, the Second Ave. Sagas podcast, makes its triumphant return after a two-month break and not a moment too soon. In this week’s episode, Eric and I discuss Friday’s F train derailment, its the immediate impact and what the future could hold for the MTA’s rail replacement efforts. This is of course the hot topic of the week. Then, we spent a few minutes reviewing the changes at the top at the LIRR. With Helena Williams out and Pat Nowakowski in, the new President has his work cut out for him both in harnessing East Side Access and in responding to the potential for a summer strike.

This week’s recording checks in at just over 21 minutes — a perfect running time for your Monday evening ride. You can grab the podcast right here on iTunes or pull the raw MP3 file. If you enjoy what you hear, subscribe to updates on iTunes as well and consider leaving us a review. If you have any questions you’d like us to tackle, leave ‘em in the comments below.

Categories : The Next Stop Is
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Crews worked overnight to re-rail an F train that had derailed on Friday. Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin.

The MTA never works better than when in crisis mode. When something bad happens, crews are diverted to solve the problem, and issues can be resolved quickly. For an agency known to drag its heels, intentionally or not, on long-term planning problems, it’s refreshing to see it spring into action when push comes to shove.

We saw this play out this past weekend when, on Friday at 10:30 a.m., an F train derailed in Queens. By the Friday evening rush hour, Transit had restored local service, and although trains were taken out of service along parts of the line on both Saturday and Sunday mornings this weekend, the MTA anticipates a normal rush hour with both express and local service by 5 a.m. Monday. Workers had to re-rail and then remove an eight-car train and repair around 500 feet of rail while inspecting nearby infrastructure to ensure trains can operate safely.

Meanwhile, the MTA shared some findings over the weekend that indicate the focus of their investigation as well as their safety record. First, it appears as though operator error was not to blame. While the 1991 Union Square derailment that led to four deaths was due to the result of a drunk motorman, officials have all but cleared the F train’s crew of wrong-doing. Rather, the derailment happened at a spot that has become the focal point of efforts to combat broken rails.

According to the MTA, the rail that snapped, leading to this derailment, was manufactured in November and installed this past March. It’s not clear if it was installed incorrectly or if it contained a defect. It will, Transit said, be sent for metallurgical testing. We’ll see what comes of that.

Overall though, it’s not surprising that this rail broke. As what the MTA describes as its effort to reduce derailments to zero, workers map broken and defective rails to identify where large-scale replacement and hardening efforts should occur. During the presentation on this topic to the MTA Board in February, Transit targeted the Queens Boulevard corridor as one of five problematic areas, and the MTA has plans to install 23 miles of continuous welded rail to reduce broken rails and noise and vibration issues. That project, unfortunately, isn’t due to start until 2015 when funding is in place. (The other areas include the 7th Ave. IRT from Dyckman south, the 8th Ave. line from 207th to Jay St., 6th Ave. between 59th and Jay St., and the Astoria line from 57th St. to the phantom stop/11th St. Cut area in Queens.)

It is also important to keep numbers in perspective. The MTA says it has experienced 17 mainline derailments in the last decade, and for a system that runs 8000 trains per day, the derailment rate is less than half the national average. As recently as 1980, the MTA reported 20 derailments in one calendar year. Still, as deferred maintenance re-enters the picture and as Queens subway riders climb aboard their express trains in the morning, tensions will be high. These derailments are bad news, and we don’t expect them. That’s why, of course, they garner so much news coverage. But they serve as a reminder why New York City needs a fully funded and fully supported capital plan for the MTA. Anything worse puts everyone in danger.

After the jump, a video of MTA workers rerailing the F train. Read More→

Categories : Queens
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The third rail guard has seen better days. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

Well, that was a busy day. In case you missed it, a Manhattan-bound F train derailed near 65th St. this morning. Luckily, only 19 passengers were injured and four of them seriously, but it snarled service along the Queens Boulevard lines all day. Transit was able to restore some service for the evening rush, but as of 10 p.m., no trains are running there in order to facilitate removal of the derailed train. That outage will last at least until 9 a.m. (instead of 7 a.m., as originally announced).

Meanwhile, as the MTA works to restore full service and inspect the rails while serving people’s transit needs, work on the J, M and 7 have been canceled. The rest of the weekend service changes are as follows:

From 11:45 p.m. Friday, May 2 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, May 5, Manhattan-bound 1 trains run express from 145 St to 96 St due to steel repairs from 125 St to 133 St.

From 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 2 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, May 5, 2 trains are suspended in both directions between Franklin Av and Flatbush Av Brooklyn College due to switch renewal north of Nostrand Av. Free shuttle buses provide alternative service, making all subway stops between Franklin Av and Flatbush Av Brooklyn College

From 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 2 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, May 5, 3 trains are suspended due to switch renewal north of Nostrand Av. 2 trains and free shuttle buses provide alternate service. In Brooklyn, free shuttle buses operate between Franklin Av and New Lots Av. Transfer between 2 trains and free shuttle buses at Franklin Av. In Harlem, free shuttle buses serve 135 St, 145 St, and 148 St. Transfer between 2 trains and free shuttle buses at 135 St.

From 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 2 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, May 5 4 trains are suspended in both directions between Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and New Lots Av due to switch renewal north of Nostrand Av. 2 trains and free shuttle buses provide alternate service. Transfer between 2 trains and free shuttle buses at Franklin Av.

From 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, May 4, 6 trains run every 16 minutes between 3 Av-138 St and Pelham Bay Park due to track panel installation at St Lawrence Av, and track maintenance at Cypress Av. The last stop for some Pelham Bay Park bound 6 trains is 3 Av-138 St.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 3 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, May 5, Coney Island Stillwell Av-bound N trains run local between 36 St and 59 St due to track tie renewal south of 36 St.

From 10:45 p.m. Friday, May 2 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, May 5, Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Newkirk Av to Sheepshead Bay due to track panel work from Church Av to Newkirk Av, and at Brighton Beach.

From 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, May 4, Q trains are extended to Astoria Ditmars Blvd due to CBTC signal work on the 7.

From 11:30 p.m. Friday, May 2 to 6:00 a.m. Sunday, May 4, and from 11:30 p.m. Sunday, May 4 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, May 5, R trains are suspended between 59 St and 36 St in Brooklyn due to track tie renewal south of 36 St.

Categories : Service Advisories
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Scene at derailment of F train south of the 65 St. station in Woodside, Queens on Fri., May 2, 2014. Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

As crews work to inspect and then remove a derailed F train underneath Woodside, Queens, New York City Transit has announced that local E and F train service has been restored along the Queens Boulevard line in both directions, but with a catch. To facilitate removal of the derailed train, this local service will operate only until 10 p.m. tonight, and then no trains will run along the Queens Boulevard line in both directions until 7 a.m. Saturday. Riders should expect “limited shuttle bus service” and should use the 7, J or LIRR trains instead.

During the evening rush and until further notice, M and R trains will not run along Queens Boulevard. R trains will terminate at 57th St.-7th Ave. in Manhattan, and M trains will operate between Metropolitan Ave. and Chambers St. The LIRR will cross-honoring valid MetroCards in both directions between Penn Station and Jamaica Station, including Kew Gardens, Forest Hills and Woodside, as well as stops between Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica. Planned weekend services changes for the J, M and 7 trains have since been canceled.

The derailment occurred at approximately 10:24 this morning when six of the F train’s eight cars jumped the tracks. Only the first and last cars remained properly railed. First responders evacuated approximately 1000 customers, and the NYPD reported 19 injuries, four of which were serious. MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast has vowed to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident which will include full inspections of signals, track and all other infrastructure in the area.

Categories : Queens
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Emergency service workers responded to the derailment of an F train under Broadway and 60th Street in Woodside, Queens. Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin.

Updated (5:00 p.m.): For the latest on service in Queens, please refer to my new post on evening service. I won’t be updating this post any further.

Updated (1:25 p.m.): The MTA is reporting that a Manhattan-bound F express train derailed at around 10:30 a.m. near 65th St. in Queens. According to the agency, the middle six of the train’s eight cars jumped the tracks while the front and rears cars stayed in place. Over 1000 passengers were evacuated, and 19 were injured, four seriously.

As the evening rush approaches, the MTA does not anticipate regular service along the Queens Boulevard line. The 7 train will run all weekend to carry some of the burden, and the LIRR is currently cross-honoring MetroCards.

For specific service changes, keep an eye out the MTA’s site. As of 1:25 p.m., the following changes are in effect:

  • There is no train service between 71st Av-Forest Hills and Queens Plaza in both directions.
  • There is no train service between 71st Av-Forest Hills and 21 St-Queensbridge in both directions.
  • There is no train service between Forest Hills-71 Av and Essex St.
  • There is no train service between 71 Av-Forest Hills and Queens Plaza in both directions.
  • Some northbound trains are running on the line from 57 St-7 Av to Queensboro Plaza.

Anyone trying to reach the JFK Airtrain should take the A train or LIRR, and other customers are advised to take the 7, J or L trains for service into Queens. LIRR is cross-honoring MetroCards at Sutphin Blvd-Archer Av, Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Woodside, Nostrand Av, East New York, Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and Penn Station-34 St. Shuttle buses are between Queens Plaza or 21 St.-Queensbridge and Forest Hills. Prepare for crowded and slow rides.

I’ll have more information as it becomes available. For more photos from scenes of the incident, check out the MTA’s photo album on Flickr.

* * *

The New York Scanner Twitter account reports on the condition of the passengers. This is, for now, unverified information:

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Let’s play catch-up with a few shorter stories:

Upper East Side votes for bus countdown clocks

It’s no secret that the MTA doesn’t plan to spend money bringing countdown clocks to bus stops. Although BusTime is now available on smartphones and via text message on all bus routes throughout the city, the MTA hasn’t shown a willingness to spend money for countdown clocks or identify which stations deserve such clocks. They have, instead, left these clocks up to everyone else. Businesses could supply them in their windows or politicians could pay for them through discretionary funding.

On the Upper East Side, residents want these clocks, and in a recent round of participatory budgeting sponsored by Council member Ben Kallos, his constituents voted for them. While westbound countdown clocks came in second in the voting, they’ve earned $300,000 for installation, and fifteen signs along the M96, M86, M79 and M66 routes will be installed on the East Side. Additionally, Kallos will spend another $340,000 in discretionary funding to install countdown clocks at downtown M31 stops.

This is how countdown clocks will arrive at bus stations and shelters throughout the city, but it’s a very piecemeal approach. These timers will be available at downtown- or west-bound stops only, and anyone headin east or north won’t enjoy easy access to the information. Maybe, eventually, as participatory budgeting and discretionary funds are doled out throughout the years, we’ll see this technology emerge everywhere, but for now, as other entities take over this project, it will be imperfect at best.

MTA Board votes to explore mobile ticketing

Kicking and screaming, the MTA will soon begin to adopt 21st Century ticketing technology. The MTA Board this week voted to approve the LIRR’s and Metro-North’s first foray into mobile ticketing. The contract is with Masabi, LLC, and it will allow the rail road customers to purchase train tickets on their phones, tablets or mobile devices. Conductors can visually verify digital tickets or use handheld devices to scan and validate tickets much as Amtrak conductors do today. (For background on Masabi, check out this Wall Street Journal article. They already provide mobile ticketing for transit services in London, Boston and San Diego.)

“More convenient ticketing options means a better experience using the train,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We want to make riding the train as easy and convenient as we can. We now offer real-time train status via app, and this next step – tickets via app – promises to be another big step toward increased convenience.”

There is, of course, a catch: It’s likely to be a year before mobile ticketing is available for widespread use. Even though this isn’t a new technology, the MTA seems to be suffering from a case of not-invented-here-itis and must test this thing thoroughly. That year, though, is sooner than the Metrocard’s replacement will be ready. At least it has that going for it.

Bustitution, LIRR strike looms

A few weeks ago, the LIRR’s largest union voted to authorize a strike if it cannot reach an agreement on a new contract with MTA management by the end of July. As rank-and-file TWU members are already speaking out against their 8 percent raises, it’s likely that the LIRR union will push hard for a more generous deal. Thus, the likelihood of a strike — with Nowakowski in charge — looms large, and the MTA must plan for it.

After a contentious discussion in which it seemed as though the MTA Board wouldn’t authorize the move, the Board finally approved issuing an RFP for bus service in the event there is no LIRR service come late July. For a few minutes this week, it appeared as though the MTA Board was content to bury its head in the sand and pretend a strike wasn’t a distinct possibility. Ultimately, though, saner minds prevailed, and the RFP is out there. A strike would be very disruptive to Long Island, but at least the MTA has recognized that substitute bus service can’t materialize overnight. I’ll follow this story as the spring unfolds.

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  • Williams out, Nowakowski in atop LIRR · With a potential strike looming and plans for substitute bus service starting to roll forward, the Long Island Rail Road has a new president. In a surprising announcement that came after the MTA Board voted today to issue an RFP for substitute bus service in the event of a strike this summer, MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast announced that Patrick A. Nowakowski would take over as head of the LIRR from Helena Williams. It’s not clear why Williams is leaving, but her departure now leaves the MTA with no female agency presidents.

    Nowakowski, who was educated at the University of Delaware and Drexel’s business school, comes to the LIRR after spending five years as Executive Director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, more commonly known as the WMATA’s Silver Line. He spent 27 years prior to that working in various roles with SEPTA, and departs DC as questions and ambiguities surrounding the revenue service date for the Silver Line have started to mount.

    “Pat Nowakowski is a railroad expert with a rare mix of skills and a long career of accomplishments, and I am pleased to welcome him to the Long Island Rail Road,” Prendergast said in a statement. “Our customers have high expectations for safe and reliable service, and events last year throughout the MTA family have shown why we must always stay focused on the basics of how best to provide that service.”

    Meanwhile, the MTA offered no indication as to the circumstances surrounding Williams’ departure, but it’s likely that looming labor unrest played no small role in the move. Williams had served as LIRR head for seven years and spent a few months as the MTA’s interim Executive Director and CEO in 2009 following Lee Sander’s resignation. She was the first female to head an MTA agency and the first female LIRR president. · (33)

As the debate over the future of the Port Authority has roiled the region, local politicians have resisted putting forward calls for reform. Gov. Chris Christie a few weeks ago even warned of going “too far” with calls to overhaul the bi-state agency. That’s a laughable position coming from the Jersey side of the river, but it’s ultimately not one likely to win the day. Reform will come, one way or another, even if it takes a few years.

Yesterday, Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator, chimed in on the issue and offered up his seven-point plan to reform Port Authority. The speech is available on Schumer’s website, and he ultimately called for the PA to get back to its roots. “The Port Authority, in an era of growth and imagination, was hewed, indivisibly, to its core mission: improving the Port District and thinking deeply about its long-term infrastructure needs,” Schumer said. “Over the past several decades, the fabric binding the Port Authority to that core mission has frayed, slowly unwinding as states saw an opportunity to use authority funds to cover budget shortfalls and finance pet projects. More frequently now than ever, the Port Authority has come to be seen as the proverbial honey pot, a cookie jar, a rainy day fund – whatever metaphor you prefer – for state projects outside the Port’s core mission.”

In the speech, Schumer offered an olive branch to the Port Authority. He would see through legislative changes the PA needs to effect reform if the agency asks. Here’s his seven-point plan:

First, the Port Authority should come back with a process for the nomination and confirmation of an Executive Director by the Board of Commissioners, not by the Governor of one state or the other. Second, the Port Authority should propose administrative changes vesting full managerial authority and responsibility of the entire Port Authority organization with the Executive Director. Third, the Port Authority should establish a permanent process to nominate individuals as Commissioners to the Port Authority who possess a comprehensive financial, engineering and planning background, and no conflicts of interest related to the Port Authority’s core mission. It should be clear that these commissioners have a fiduciary duty to the Port Authority

Fourth, the Port Authority should submit procedures that will allow the Port Authority to have a detailed annual operating budget and a multi-year financial plan that can be adopted after opportunities for public review and comment. Fifth, they should establish procedures that will allow the Port Authority’s capital budgeting to be guided by a long-term capital strategy that is regularly revised – I suggest at least annually. This plan should show how the Port is prioritizing and financing projects, and only then should it be adopted after opportunities for public review and comment.

Sixth, the members of the board should submit a plan to end spending on non-revenue generating state projects that are outside the core mission. Seventh, the Port Authority should end the acquisition of new non-revenue generating facilities and projects outside the boundaries of the Port District that are not core to the Port Authority’s central mission.

Much of Schumer’s speech is targeted toward Christie’s pet projects — the Atlantic City Airport plans come to mind. But Schumer also issued his own call for a Stewart Airport rail link, a long-standing desire that I dismissed as early as August of 2007. He also discusses the long-awaited Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, a rail project that would create problems for the Triboro RX line. These are, Schumer argues, “just the kind of project that the early Port Authority leaders would embark upon.”

There was, however, one part of the speech I thought worth a second look. Although it’s been a while, Schumer spoke about the ARC Tunnel as well. He has not held back in his criticism of Christie’s controversial decision to cancel the tunnel and again spoke out against the move. “Diverting funds from the ARC tunnel for the Pulaski Skyway was the wrong move,” Schumer said. “The ARC tunnel was a high-priority and already fully funded. It was a bad idea to stop it and a worse idea to cannibalize it for projects that ought to have been funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, perhaps even with some help from federal highway dollars. The Port Authority should have pressed forward on ARC. As I said then, ‘It was like eating our seed corn.’”

Originally, the Port Authority had pledged $3 billion to the ARC Tunnel, and New Jersey had to pick up the rest of the money that didn’t come from the feds. This gave Christie the power to cancel the project, and as soon he could, he gave it the axe. While I understand the funding structure, I never could comprehend the insular nature of Christie’s decision. ARC wasn’t just a one-state project. It had an affect on New Jersey and New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland, and the entire Northeast Corridor. Anyone riding the Acela, the Empire and Keystone Services, the Crescent, the Vermonter and everything in between would have enjoyed the benefits of ARC, but Christie himself made the decision to kill it.

Going forward, we don’t know what the Port Authority will become after Christie and Cuomo are gone. Maybe New York and New Jersey can move beyond tit-for-tat land deals and can restore some luster to the Port Authority. Hopefully, when we do, we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and think beyond the provincialism of state borders when major projects are considered, funded and seen through. That would be a strong lasting legacy for anyone looking to reform the Port Authority.

Categories : PANYNJ
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