Instead of staring vacantly into a phone on the train, the MTA and New York City's three public library systems would like straphangers to bury their noses in e-books, gratis. Starting today, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Library will be offering hundreds of free short stories, books, and book excerpts for download through each station's wireless network. Available for six weeks only, Subway Library will let you read titles in the library system as well as selects from five publishers' catalogues. And who doesn't like books? Even Governor Andrew I-don't-control-the-MTA Cuomo had kind words for the program. “I am thrilled that the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library are kicking off the summer reading season and offering free e-books to subway riders through the MTA’s TransitWirelessWiFi™,” Cuomo said, referring to the private wireless services provider for the subway system. “The Subway Library will encourage adults and children to explore new worlds through reading during their daily commute, while spreading awareness of our Wi-Fi and connectivity services underground.” To promote the program, the MTA's gone all out and decked out a real train: Inside, the promotional car is gussied up to resemble the Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library's main branch on 42nd Street: The industrial grey-blue seats are transformed into faux wood benches as book-lined wallpaper edges the car, though the titles are more suggestive than substantive. Curious riders can catch the special train on the E and F lines' 6th and 8th Avenue corridors.
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In anticipation of the upcoming L train shutdown in 2019, the Department of Transit (DOT) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) are examining the possibilities for a car-free busway for a portion of, or the entirety of, 14th Street in Manhattan. According to a Streetsblog NYC article, the agencies presented four potential options to a Manhattan Community Board 6 transportation committee last night. These options are meant to alleviate traffic that will inevitably result from the L train offload, which amounts up to 275,000 people daily. Here’s what was presented: A “standard” Select Bus Service (dedicated lanes with no physical separation), an “enhanced” Select Bus Service (additional turn and curb restrictions), a car-free busway in the middle blocks of 14th Street, and a completely closed-off, river-to-river street dedicated only to buses. The presentation also included three alternative bus route plans between Brooklyn and Manhattan; one would run from the Grand Street L stop and over the Williamsburg Bridge, heading up First Avenue to 14th Street, and the other two routes would link to the Broadway-Lafayette station. The MTA has already ordered an additional 200 buses for the duration of the 15-month-shutdown. They have anticipated that between 75 to 85 percent of the daily riders will use other subway lines, while only 5 to 15 percent of riders will turn to bus services—which could easily turn the J/M/Z and G subway lines into a nightmare. These new, “attractive” bus options could help increase bus ridership, officials said at the meeting. “The difference for the average user is really dramatic,” said Transportation Alternatives organizer Tom DeVito to Streetsblog. “They made the point loud and clear that they want those 200 buses to be moving people as efficiently as possible.”
The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has approved a capital plan that gives money to roads and bridges but not to enhancing service on New York City's beleaguered subways. Out of a five-year, $32.5 billion capital plan, the board gave $3 billion in extra funding to projects that Governor Andrew Cuomo supports, including $1.5 billion for a new LIRR track, $400 million for cashless tolling for bridges and tunnels, and $700 million for phase two of the Second Avenue Subway. Cuomo is in charge of the authority and appoints six of its 14 members, more than any other entity. (In a quirk of home rule, the MTA, a state agency, oversees the subway, which serves New York City only.) Although the new plan adds more funding for these expansion projects, subway spending remained almost flat, the New York Times reported. As almost any commuter could confirm anecdotally, there are more straphangers than ever, with trips—especially during rush hour—marred by frequent delays. Part of the problem is that the MTA relies on an outdated signal system to move cars through the tubes. This new capital plan doesn't provide additional funding for a system that would allow trains to run more efficiently, even with the occasional sick passenger. “Investing in the M.T.A. is a good thing, but these changes won’t address riders’ core concern of the increase in crowding, breakdowns and delays,” John Raskin, executive director of passenger advocacy group the Riders Alliance, told the paper.
Better bus service? A shorter L-mageddon? New Second Avenue Subway stops?? The MTA says yes, you betcha, to all these projects and a few more. Today the MTA Board voted on a number of initiatives it says will improve service and boost turnaround time on major projects, including phase two of the Second Avenue Subway and L train tunnel repairs. The Board also voted to spiffy up train stations and add new buses citywide. “Today’s votes will bring convenience and better service to the millions of New Yorkers who use our system every day,” said interim executive director Ronnie Hakim, in a prepared statement. “Improvements include modernized train stations in Astoria and a shorter closure of the Canarsie Tunnel, which will lessen the impact on L train riders as we undertake these necessary Sandy storm repairs.” Phase two of the Second Avenue Subway, which now ends at 96th Street, will eventually bring Q trains zooming north to 125th Street. In the spirit of git-'er-done, the Board voted to grant a $7.3 million contract for outreach services in advance of two new stations at 106th and 116th streets. A partnership between Spectrum Personal Communications and transportation planners at Sam Schwartz Engineering will bring a community information center to East 125th Street this spring. At the center, English- and Spanish-speaking staff will be on hand to answer questions about the subway; lead educational events; and prepare plans for the Community Boards and elected officials. Be on the lookout for a project schedule once the (already underway) phase two preliminary design and engineering work wraps up. Downtown, the MTA is pushing for L train tunnel work to be completed in 15 months, three fewer than initially projected. The $492 million project was awarded to Judlau Contracting and TC Electric, though Judlau is the same firm behind construction delays on the Second Ave subway (¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Over in Queens, $150 million will go towards improving above-ground subway stations on the N and W line in Astoria. Improvements will add security cameras, art, better lighting, and countdown clocks, the commuter's godsend. F0r a preview of what's in store for the borough, look no further than the work being done on the first group of stations in this project, along 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. Buses were not left out amid the many new things for trains. The city will get 60-foot articulated buses (53 in all) to replace the aging 40-footers in its fleet. These new buses will be suited up with, among other features, turn warnings for pedestrians, wifi, USB charging ports, and passenger counter.
New York City is searching for the right developer to build green space, housing, and retail over a Queens rail yard. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in collaboration with the MTA, put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the project today. Developers would have the opportunity to transform a 58,000-square-foot property in Long Island City into mixed-income housing development that includes commercial space, community facilities, and public open space. The city owns the air rights to the site, which sits close to public transit and MoMA PS1. The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) currently uses the site, which is bounded by Jackson Avenue, 49th Avenue, and 21st Street, for storage. Like Manhattan's Hudson Yards, the development would need to be built over the yard, DNAinfo reports. Per the RFP, submissions are due April 21. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
Days before the 2nd Avenue Subway is set to open, the MTA allowed the public to tour the new station on 2nd Avenue and 96th Street. The new station comes with slightly more subway maps available to read at both platform and entry levels. The station is also filled with expansive wall art that can be found throughout the whole building. Though no trains were running through (the first is scheduled for January 1st), the station felt spacious and breathable. This is mostly due to the space available, but also down to the voids that cut through to the platform level, opening the station up. Similarly, simple methods of circulation on the main concourse will help the station cope with a significant volume of passengers during rush hour while wide platforms address this issue too. When finally open, the whole 8.5-mile Q-line should carry straphangers from East 125th Street to Hanover Street in the Financial District.
It's beginning to look a lot like an on-time opening for the Second Avenue Subway. Despite pictures of tunnels shrouded in scaffolding, and multiple missed project deadlines, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) assured a skeptical public this fall that phase one of the system’s newest line would be open by New Year’s Day. Should New York expect a new east side subway in the new year, or is the new line still a pipe dream? First there were reports in October that the new tunnels, which would add stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets, were too narrow to accommodate trains; workers had to file concrete passages to size. Now, it appears the odds and ends of bringing the $4.5-billion project to fruition are holding up opening day. When The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) reached out to the MTA about a media tour of the line at press time in mid-December, a spokesperson said that no tours were planned at the time, but the paper should attend the opening event at a to-be-announced future date. The line, in the works since the 1920s, has been delayed by the Great Depression, a world war, and good old-fashioned politicking, so its latest temporal setback is hardly a surprise, according to transit advocates. The most recent deadline for the subway, which includes a Q train extension from 57th Street–7th Avenue to the new 96th Street station, was set seven years ago. After recent mistakes, the MTA is taking extra precautions to ensure every component is functioning adequately: When it opened in 2015, the 7 train extension to Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Far West Side was plagued with structural deficiencies—most notably leaky ceilings that turned busy walkways into perilous butt-to-floor encounters. Despite the obstacles, Governor Andrew Cuomo is confident the line will be open right as Times Square revelers usher in 2017. On Twitter, he urged New Yorkers not to drink the hater-ade: “Right now, there is a lot of cynicism and skepticism about our projects. We’re going to restore credibility. #2ndAveSubway will open Jan 1.” He is allegedly pressuring the MTA to finish up quickly, but as we usher in 2017 there’s still no opening to look forward to—and this is only phase one. When complete, (most likely after everyone reading this has died), the whole 8.5-mile line should carry straphangers from East 125th Street to Hanover Street in the Financial District.
Earlier today, Governor Cuomo announced that the New-York Historical Society will partner with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to preserve the spontaneous “Subway Therapy” installations that appeared throughout New York City subway stations in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, which was largely predicated on openly racist, misogynist, and xenophobic rhetoric, as well as the denial of climate science. The project was created when artist Matthew Levee Chavez brought sticky notes and pens to subway stations in the days following the election results, and encouraged New Yorkers to “express their thoughts, feel less alone, and also become exposed to opinions different than their own,” Chavez said. Working with the artist, the New-York Historical Society will archive the sticky notes as “an emblem of emotion and humanity in the month following the [2016 national] election,” according to a press release. "Over the last six weeks, New Yorkers have proved that we will not let fear and division define us. Today, we preserve a powerful symbol that shows how New Yorkers of all ages, races, and religions came together to say we are one family, one community and we will not be torn apart," said Governor Cuomo. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society spoke of the way “ephemeral items in particular can become vivid historical documents,” and the importance of ensuring “future generations can understand the historical impact of present events.” “‘Subway Therapy’ perfectly evokes this historic moment,” Mirrer said of the participatory art piece. As the removal of the sticky notes is already underway, the public will still be able to participate in the project, this Tuesday through Inauguration Day on January 20th, by placing sticky notes on the glass wall inside New-York Historical Society’s front entrance, located on Central Park West at 77th Street.
No-car zone proposed for 14th Street in Manhattan, Grand Street in Williamsburg, during L train shutdown
For several months, transit advocacy groups and politicians have been entertaining the concept of closing Manhattan’s 14th Street to private car traffic while the L train tunnel—pictured above—is repaired. Now they are hoping to put similar rules in place for Grand Street in Williamsburg. Under the rules of the plan, people would only be allowed to travel by bus, on a bike, or by foot in both of these areas while the L train pathway is properly restored. Carolina Samponaro, senior director of Transportation Alternatives, told The New York Post that “Grand street is a major backbone along the L train route just like 14th Street,” saying that the group is aiming for a “complete street redesign.” The no-car zone in Williamsburg would extend from Grand Street to Metropolitan Avenue. At present, the L train moves some 225,000 passengers daily between Williamsburg and Manhattan. Though there were mixed feelings back in the spring when the MTA reviewed possible plans for repair, all 11 Community boards along the L were “overwhelmingly in favor” of a total shutdown for 18 months, as opposed to a one-track-at-a-time three-year closure, as reported by The Architect’s Newspaper. The Canarsie Tunnel which brings the L train under the east river was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.
New Yorkers will soon be traveling through flood-resistant tunnels and over earthquake-proof bridges, complete with jazzy, customized LED installations. Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans this week for infrastructure upgrades geared towards maintaining the safety, efficiency, and security of the MTA's bridges and tunnel. "By investing in New York's transportation network today and equipping it to meet the challenges of tomorrow, we are cementing our state's position as a national leader in 21st-century infrastructure and cutting-edge innovation," Governor Cuomo said, in a statement. "From speeding up commutes and reducing emissions on key roadways with automatic tolling to bolstering resiliency on our bridges and tunnels and increasing security at key checkpoints, this transformational project will revolutionize transportation in New York and ensure that our state is built to lead for generations to come." The governor's initiative covers travel routes high and low: On the ground, the New York Crossings Project will bring flood-control barriers to tunnels to prevent the catastrophic water damage unleashed on underground infrastructure by Hurricane Sandy. Previously built to prevent the impact of 100-year floods, the new barriers are capable of withstanding those 500-year deluges. The plan also calls for the bearings on all bridges to be replaced with seismic isolation bearings to protect against earthquakes and other adverse natural events. Bridge columns and piers will be reinforced, while concrete armor units will be installed to on the underwater part of bridge piers to provide further protection. On those seven bridges and two tunnels, the state will install automatic toll booths to boost traffic flow and decrease congestion, saving commuters an estimated 21 hours of driving and a million gallons of fuel each year. Sensors and cameras will be installed on gantries above the road so monitors can record passing cars and bill E-Z Pass or invoice drivers of non-E-Z Pass vehicles. The cameras won't be watching license plates alone: In an effort to ramp up security, Albany plans to test emerging face-recognition software on drivers. (The Orwellian technology will also be used at the just-announced Penn-Farley Complex.) Invoking civic buildings—Grand Central Terminal, the original Penn Station—that are also nice to look at, the governor aims to create "modern transportation gateways" from the humble toll plaza. Tunnel plazas will be redesigned with LED-enabled "veils," while gantries for the new toll booths will sport "wave" designs that also provide soundproofing. An all-day light spectacle on the George Washington Bridge, the governor explains, will provide a festive, Instagram-ready tableaux for visitors (and boost the sale of blackout shades for anyone living in a 10-block radius of the bridge). The first phase of the installation will begin this January, with all project being funded through the MTA's $27 billion capital plan.
In the final days of the state legislative session, it's common practice for participating parties to play Supermarket Sweep with the budget bill: Hundreds of special-interest items are piled into the document at the eleventh hour when legislators don't necessarily have the time to scrutinize each one. At the end of the last legislative session, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) snuck a major item into the budget that would allow the agency to develop land it controls any way it chooses, regardless of local zoning. Senate Bill 8037, sponsored by Senator Jack M. Martins, a Democrat from Eastern Long Island, would repeal the problematic language. The bill maintains that the definition of "transportation purpose" is too broad, and could have "unintended consequences" for local governments. Martins's bill passed the Assembly and the Senate, and is waiting for a signature from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Architect's Newspaper reached out to one of the bill's co-sponsors, Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat who represents part of Manhattan's East Side, for comment on the legislation. A representative from Senator Krueger's office stated that there's no word yet on when the governor will take action on the bill.
Fresh from devising a plan make re-imaging Penn Station and regional rail, Jim Venturi and his team at ReThink Studio are snapping at the MTA's heels once again. As all subway-faring New Yorkers will know by now, the L-train is due to shut down in 2019 for much needed repairs on the Canarsie tunnels that connect Manhattan to Williamsburg. The MTA is still figuring out how to compensate for the shutdown, though their plan may include increased subway, ferry, or bus services. The stakes are high for daily commuters and the neighborhood's overall growth: In May, the New York Times reported that Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president Carlo A. Scissura said businesses were panicking. Developers too were worried. “You may see people who say: ‘It’s not worth it to rent an apartment along this corridor. I’m just going to do something else,’” Scissura said. “This is an area where a Saturday or a Friday night is like prime-time rush hour on a Monday morning commute." So what does Venturi's Rethink Studio propose? "Right now with the L train outage there are only bad choices available" Venturi told The Architect's Newspaper. "Shuttle buses and ferries are not nearly as convenient as subway service, and redirecting passengers onto existing nearby subway lines will lead to further over-crowding," according to ReThinkStudio. Consequently, his team proposes running the E train through its current end-stop at the World Trade Center and into Brooklyn. Taking the A/C line, the service would continue northbound on the G line, terminating at Court Square in Queens. Currently, the G train only uses four cars on its service, which runs every eight minutes. The plan, Venturi argues, will help the transportation network handle the L trains daily passenger load: Some 400,000 riders every weekday. Venturi also hopes that running the E alongside will add some resiliency to the network, providing room for growth for redundancy for fallback plans. For those on the G, ReThink Studio's proposal would make traveling into Manhattan a one-seat journey. Meanwhile, L train passengers will have a two-seat ride into Manhattan by transferring at Lorimer Street. In this scenario, the E would break away from the A and C lines at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street, a feat made possible by adding a new rail switch, as illustrated by the studio. "This is a good idea regardless of the L train shutdown," Venturi said. He argues that the added "connectivity and redundancy is what the system needs." Indeed, such resiliency and redundancy in underground transit networks can be found in both Berlin and London, where many lines run the same route at numerous instances.