Posts tagged with "Infrastructure":

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190,000 evacuated as California’s largest dam nears failure

The Oroville Dam, which supports California’s second largest reservoir and is the tallest dam in the country, is showing increasing likelihood of failure after an exceedingly wet winter rain season. This year's rainy season has brought record rains to the state after years of drought. The 770-foot-high dam is located in northern California 75 miles north of Sacramento, the state capital. The dam, built between 1961 and 1967, holds roughly 3.5 million acre-feet of water—an acre-foot is equal to the volume contained within a sheet of water one acre in area and one foot in depth, or, 43,560 cubic feet—and is integral to the California Water Project, the state’s expansive flood control and irrigation system that delivers water from the wetter and more sparsely-populated areas in the north to the drier and more densely-populated communities along the coast and south. The dam, which holds back Lake Oroville, suffered a partial fracture along its emergency spillway early last week. The emergency spillway acts as a relief valve for the dam and is designed to be opened up when water levels in the dam get too high. It was used for the first time in the dam’s history this weekend. The damaged spillway is not paved over in concrete like the main spillway, but instead, exists as a wooded slope. The damage caused engineers tasked with managing the dam to slow down the release of excess water along the emergency spillway and, as a result, the reservoir reached capacity over the weekend. Use of the emergency spillway persisted to alleviate the high water levels. Despite assurances from officials that the dam was safe and structurally sound throughout the weekend, officials announced emergency evacuation orders late Sunday as it became obvious that water being released over the emergency spillway had resulted in the steady erosion of the hillside holding the dam’s foundations. The state’s Emergency Mass Notification system sent out the following message via email Sunday afternoon:
Emergency Mass Notification Message (2/12/17 4:20 p.m.) This is an evacuation order. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered. A hazardous situation is developing with the Oroville Dam auxiliary spillway. Operation of the auxiliary spillway has lead to severe erosion that could lead to a failure of the structure. Failure of the auxiliary spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville. In response to this developing situation, DWR is increasing water releases to 100,000 cubic feet per second. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered. This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill.
The dam sits above a wide swath of wooded and agricultural areas, including the communities of Oroville and Yuba City. As a result of the evacuation orders, roughly 190,000 residents were asked to leave the area to find higher ground. Engineers were able to lower the water level enough over Sunday evening to cease use of the emergency spillway, a development which will theoretically allow engineers to observe and try to repair the damages to the dam. Joe Countryman, a member of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and a former engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told the Sacramento Bee, "I think between now and Thursday, when the next storm arrives, they need to get the reservoir down as low as they can. Tomorrow, they need to start grouting the hell out of that embankment to try to shut off where that leak is." As a result of the potential catastrophe, The Los Angeles Times reports Governor Jerry Brown has put the entire California National Guard—a force of 23,000 of soldiers and pilots—on call for the first time since the Los Angeles riots in 1992. As of 7:00 AM Pacific Time, the dam is still in immediate danger of partial failure. We will bring more updates as they happen. For a list of evacuation sites and shelters, see the Butte County website.
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Chicago digs deep to fight flooding, but the city’s geology may provide another solution

When it rains, Chicago faces challenges from above and below: With 25 percent of the city paved-over, rain can't reach the soil and absorb the onslaught of water. An aging and under-capacity sewer system causes regular flooding and even sewage discharge into nearby water bodies. The challenge is immense—for Chicago, one inch of rainfall equals four billion gallons. Until recently Chicago’s answer to the problem has been an infrastructure project no less than epic—read costly—in scale. But one landscape architect is leading an effort to change how the city can unlock its hidden potential for storm water management. Chicago’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP), also known as the Deep Tunnel Project, is the latest in the city’s massive water projects. Following in the footsteps of extensive canal digging around the turn of the 19th century, the TARP is a 50-year project that started in 1975. Completed 19 years ago, phase one of the project includes over 100 miles of tunnels ranging up to 33 feet in diameter. These tunnels are reservoirs for over two billion gallons of sewage overflow, waiting to be treated. Surface reservoirs are planned to hold another 15 billion gallons when the project is complete in 2029. In the past 30 years, the project has had some success in mitigating the situation, but at a cost of $3 billion so far. Some feel there is another, more immediate way to help at the neighborhood level. Mary Pat McGuire, landscape architect and assistant professor at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, has been working with her students, geologists and coastal researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey to map porous, naturally occurring sand deposits located just under Chicago’s surface that could absorb rainfall. To find the best test sites for anti-flooding interventions, McGuire is matching the deposits, located along the Lake Michigan shoreline and running up to 25 feet deep, with heavily paved areas that flood frequently. Next, she aims to find local partners—likely community advocacy groups—who will support her to implement design prototypes that could include de-paving, installing dry wells and monitoring equipment, and even introducing new absorbent materials. What would such an intervention look like? "Pattern is going to be an important way for people to recognize that something is happening there…[that] it's not an accident." Abandoned or underused sites could also take up a variety of public programming over time. But first and foremost, "the ultimate goal [is] designing water where it falls."
Even with the massive TARP project underway, parts of Chicago may not be getting the desperate attention they need when it comes to flooding. According to McGuire, “first Chicago” gets more preferential treatment while other areas are neglected (as documented by flood insurance claims). “There's an inequity in terms of the ways [city government] is dealing with the situation." She believes community organizers and alderman in affected areas will need to push for on-the-ground solutions. “If Chicagoans understood the cause of their regular and widespread flooding,” she added, “They might rise up and say 'City, you're not providing enough public works for us.'" She argued that working back into the paved surface across the City would alleviate problems for all, including overflows into the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
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New initiative seeks to map Chicago’s underground infrastructure

Chicago-based consortium City Digital is working on a project to map the subterranean infrastructure of the Windy City. Their underground infrastructure mapping (UIM) platform will “generate, organize, visualize, and store 3D underground infrastructure data,” such as the location and depth of gas lines, water pipes, and fiber optic, and is expected to save the city “millions of dollars in construction and planning processes,” according to a press release by UI Labs, a partner in the project. Though still in its testing phase, the platform will work alongside existing construction and development as engineers and city workers open holes in streets and sidewalks. They simply take a snapshot of the pipes and wires that are revealed underneath the pavement surface, which is then scanned into the mapping platform to extract information such as depth, height, and width of the pipes or cables. Afterward, the data will be layered onto a map of Chicago’s streets, and with continued use, the platform will be able to extrapolate the layout of other untapped areas with increasing accuracy, according to CityLab City Digital's project isn't the only smart city initiative underway in Chicago. The Array of Things is seeking to install approximately 500 sensing devices across the city that will collect data on temperature, light, ambient noise, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, among other factors, and will eventually be able to provide insights around urban flooding, precipitation, and pollutants. The project explicitly states their interest in “monitoring the city’s environment and activity, not individuals,” arguing that the “privacy protection is built into the design of the sensors and into the operating policies.” Array of Things is spearheaded by the Urban Center for Computation and Data, a research initiative of the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. In implementing these new projects, Chicago seeks to join the ranks of the world’s leading smart cities, such as Barcelona, Singapore, and London, which have made significant increases in efficiency by embracing new technologies. Still, the developments have raised concern about privacy, and whether the projects will serve to make real improvements in urban life, or to simply make big tech vendors even richer, according to The Chicago Tribune.
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New York unveils flashy upgrades for disaster-proof bridges and tunnels

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.
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Jim Venturi and ReThinkNYC want to revolutionize how NYC handles train infrastructure

Jim Venturi has a habit of being a rogue planner with his team at ReThinkNYC. Last year, he suggested using Riker's Island to expand La Guardia airport and now he is taking on New York and New Jersey's suburban rail network. His plan counters the current federal Gateway Project which proposes a high-speed rail link into Manhattan and the creation of a new terminus at Penn Station. Due to open in 2024, the plan aims to alleviate bottlenecking by adding 25 new train slots for use at peak times by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit (NJT) along the North East Corridor (NEC) between Newark and New York City. Currently, those tracks are at full capacity. https://vimeo.com/161951825 If realized, the project would see the demolition of  Napoleon Le Brun's St. John the Baptist Church which dates back to 1871, a historic piece of French-Gothic architecture that is a well established part of Manhattan's urban fabric. Of greater importance for Venturi, however, lies with the continual use of Penn station as a terminus and not a through station. From an infrastructure perspective, capacity problems arise with terminuses: trains have to enter and leave, creating more traffic, while passengers often have to alight to catch their connections, which leads to overcrowding. This happens to the extent that trains often wait up to ten minutes before entering the station and passengers queue at platform escalators, something that train schedules have since incorporated as status quo. Penn Station is already the busiest station in the country. It's platforms, in comparison to other regional stations, are very narrow. Since the addition of escalators and the advent of other modern day needs, available space has further decreased. To counter this, ReThinkNYC has devised a system whereby tracks are surrounded on either side by platforms. In this scenario, people can alight on one side and embark on the other, thus potentially improving circulation with people no longer getting in each others way.   ReThinkNYC also proposes that Penn Station becomes a through-station. This is nothing new. Indeed, the station is already a through-station for Amtrak services though is not for the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and NJT. Speaking to AN, Venturi spoke of how terminuses are all too commonplace in a region which currently holds three, run by four operators—MetroNorth, NJT, LIRR, and Amtrak. Efficiency and connectivity are the crux of ReThinkNYC's plan, with services being more accessible for passengers. "We need to think bigger," Venturi says. The current proposed plan, Venturi explained, is a "quick fix" bereft of longterm foresight and the result of of a system that is seldom fed any infrastructural ideas. He said this situation stems from a growing disparity between revenue and power centers between Washington D.C. and New York. "Our plan is very boring" he adds, going on to say that in "any other country, our idea is completely normal." And he's not wrong. Across Europe, through-stations in cities have become commonplace, with Berlin's Hauptbahnhof leading by example, running tracks through the station on three levels in different directions. "As far as I can tell we're the only city in the developed world that is building new terminals," as opposed to through-stations, he said. Paris and London are two notable beneficiaries of modern day through-service plans, and even closer to home, Philadelphia has done the same. If the Gateway project were to be a through-station, Venturi explained, Amtrak services could continue up to Queens and the Bronx. A "trunk" line where all four operators overlap running through Penn Station would be established between Secaucus Junction (NJ) and Sunnyside in Queens. At either side of these stations, services would then diverge; most on the Queens side would go to Port Morris in the Bronx where a new rail yard would be located. This would then prevent Amtrak from reaching capacity at the Sunnyside rail yard and allow NJT services to run through Penn Station. This system, which is very much like the Paris, London and Philadelphia examples above, would allow sidings (i.e. freight stored in a train yard) to sit on the periphery while allowing the "core" to be a place where passengers can transfer onto the subway system and other suburban rail services For this to happen, though, NJT would have to move their terminus eastward to Port Morris while LIRR would have to follow suit in the opposite direction to Secaucus. https://vimeo.com/163764271 While Venturi's scheme calls for the construction of three tunnels and a new viaduct (see video above) to essentially connect the Hudson and Harlem lines and the NEC, the plan also utilizes much unused infrastructure. Track beds that were never filled would be electrified and the Hell Gate bridge, which was originally built to hold four tracks would finally be used as such. For ReThinkNYC's plan to be realized, Venturi has broken it up into five phases as can be seen below. Electrification however, is another issue. Metro North and LIRR use two variations of the "3rd rail" electric connections to power their trains (one is a high contact platform, the other is low). To make things more complicated, 3 different catenary (overhead electrification) standards are used, so in the cases of lines that use overhead contact, 3 variations of voltage/Frequency output (Voltz/Hertz) are also used. This, of course, can all be changed, accommodating all these systems takes up valuable space in carriages and is generally seen as impractical. In comparison to Europe, two forms of electrification dominate the rail networks. Known as Electric multiple units (EMU's), trains make use of a 3rd rail/overhead hybrid contact system which has become commonplace, thus allowing freight and passenger rail services to cross borders without hassle. In the US, however, a lack of standardization appears to be halting progress in this respect. https://vimeo.com/161960566 Though a major overhaul, the practice of setting such standards in the UK was achieved after WWII when the railways were nationalized and the 25 kV 50 Hz overhead system was installed and the 3rd rail system developed in the South East with the exception of the Eurostar service. In light of all this, there is still room for improvement. Venturi explains how a connection between Trenton and New Haven could be easily realized. "It seems obvious," he says. "Just draw a straight line between Trenton and New Haven." In this case, similar types of rolling stock could be used due to the way these lines are electrified. Despite the ominous outlook of the East coast's rail network in comparison to the rest of the developed world, Venturi is adamant that a "rail revival" is happening, or at least underway.
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Australian infrastructure project receives digitally sourced facade cladding system

Complementing the transit nature of the tunnel environment, the façade design generates a sense of visual movement and energy for vehicular traffic and passers-by.

RPS Group has designed a facade cladding system to Brisbane Australia’s Legacy Way project – a $1.5 billion tunneling project that included the urban and architectural landscape design as well as tunnel portals, ventilation facilities, noise barriers, and roadside landscapes. The project was recently named Australia’s top project at the 2015 National Infrastructure Awards. One key aspect of the design is a facade cladding system developed in collaboration with UAP Factory. The metal bar assembly attaches to the concrete walls and an open facade of the ventilation facility to provide a patterned effect for high-speed vehicular traffic. The digitally sourced pattern is fabricated by twisting steel bars arrayed perpendicular to the viewer. They are selectively twisted to produce momentary thin nodes. These nodes, spread throughout the field of the system, produce a pattern legible at a large scale to high-speed traffic. The assembly is noteworthy for its ability to produce image-like effects with factory-controlled fabrication techniques and conventional installation details. Prefabrication of the panels further added to the economy of the system.
  • Facade Manufacturer UAP Factory
  • Architects RPS Group
  • Facade Installer UAP Factory
  • Location Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System custom metal screen wall cladding
  • Products powder coated aluminum by UAP Factory
“Our aim was to balance Legacy Way’s design and infrastructure components to create an attractive, safe and seamless connection that integrates with local communities,” RPS Landscape Architecture Principal Philip Kleinschmidt explained in a press release. The design team tracked their movements around Australia for one year via GPS, and translated the resulting patterns into a layered graphic patterning system. A base layer of flatbars on edge is fixed back to the building on two horizontal rails. A secondary layer was established by mechanically twisting the flatbar ninety degrees to create undulating fields of solid and void. A tertiary system introduces a ridge detail via triangular fins to create depth change across the facade. These visual effects were then tested through an iterative digital modeling phase. “3d visualization and modeling was used to test pattern applications and understand the overall aesthetic once the system was rolled out en masse,” Amanda Harris, UAP’s Senior Associate and Design Manager, told AN. Harris said that this was a project concerning material properties: “The major constraint was ensuring efficiency of material, investigating and proving up the density (and therefore overall linear meterage) of material required to create the desired visual impact.” Digital models, scale physical models, and eventually larger mockups were produced to allow physical testing of the assembly and to confirm its desired visual effects. Harris said the mockups provided an essential feedback loop: “The twisting process itself was limited by the material, and it was important to understand and avoid twisting radiuses becoming too tight, to avoid causing stress and tearing of the aluminum.”
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Triptyque unveils São Paulo’s minhocão garden viaduct plans

  Brazilian and French firm Triptyque has unveiled their plans for a 2.2 mile vegetated viaduct in São Paulo, Brazil. Originally constructed in 1971, the Minhocão viaduct paved the way for modern automotive travel within the city. Now, despite being closed to vehicles between 9.30 p.m. and 6.30 a.m. and on all day Sundays, the area has become the heavily polluted Triptyque's green solution then, is fitting. As the city attempts to reclaim the highway, leasing it out to pedestrians, Triptyque has proposed lining the viaduct with dashes of greenery and vegetation to make it a more inviting space. Working alongside landscaper Guild Blanche, the scheme focuses on the Minhocão Marquise, the area underneath the roadway itself. Here, they envision a communal space for art, sports, and special events, with Triptyque driving home the idea that color and vibrancy are key components of the project. In doing so, they hope to counter the grayness of São Paulo and create a lively and pedestrian-friendly place. As part of the plan, the Marquise will be divided into blocks, each located within the 108 foot gaps between each pillar. These blocks will be numbered and labeled as the "posts" corresponding the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. As a result, each block will receive four programs: "culture, food, services and shops." These activities will be governed by a public-private partnership in which the São Paulo mayor and city authorities will play a curatorial role and oversee the general scheme. Light is also an important factor. Due to the nature of the site, little daylight enters the space. Vegetation will have to hangover the edges or be suspended in order to grow. This, however, works in the scheme's favor with greenery able to to filter 20% of carbon dioxide pollution from the cars above. Plants will be irrigated via a natural water harvesting system, meanwhile residual/excess water will be used to clean the Marquise surface. https://vimeo.com/160749242
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Private company proposes cable-car system for Toronto

Toronto's Don Valley could be set for a cable car network connecting the downtown district to the greener area around Evergreen Brick Works. The project has private backing from a Swiss-Canadian company. Steven Dale, CEO of Bullwheel International Cable Car, sees the scheme as bridging the gap for the last leg of the journey to get to the Brick Works, which is currently only accessible via a shuttle bus on public transport or by personal vehicle. According to Next City, the Brick Works sees 500,000 visitors arrive each year by car. The added infrastructure could potentially boost the local farmers market and see an increase in use at the children's garden and event areas as well the general area itself which offers a welcome break from urban life with parks and trails. Going over, rather than around or under, appears to be the preferred solution for swift access to the environmental center that is awkwardly sprawled across one of Toronto's ravines. Dale argues that the proposal isn't about developing infrastructure. He maintains that the cable car's primary function would be recreational, viewed and used as a civic landmark, able to offer views over the ravine.  The system would also see no state interference, being privately run and funded. Dale hypothesizes that a journey would cost around $10 to non-locals with the entire scheme estimated at requiring $25 million to fund. As for the network itself, six towers, constructed on state land across the ravine will allow up to 42 cable cars to travel back and forth, travelling from the Brick Works in Don Valley down to Playter Gates in Downtown.
The company added that each gondola would come tooled with a bike rack to facilitate cyclists as well as other measures being in place to accommodate disabled access. "I don’t know why we’d reject any means of getting people around," Dale said. “We’re trying to come to grips with what kinds of ways we can provide people greater access to the ravines without being too obtrusive … The concept of a cable car that goes through some land that is beautiful and scenic is very appealing." Despite the audacious scheme, no planning proposals have yet been submitted to the city authorities. That said, the Don Valley Cable Car project will host a meeting on March 8 by the proposed station location at Broadway and Danforth to provide further information to locals.  
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Pedal Power: London could soon have more cyclists than motorists on its streets

Since the turn of the century, the number of motorists in London more than halved from 137,000 to 64,000. In the same period, cyclist numbers trebled from 12,000 to 36,000, showing that more commuters are increasingly choosing two wheels over four to get to work. Britain now boasts over two million weekly cyclists—an all-time high, according to British Cycling, a governing body in the UK. Sales of U.K. manufactured bikes subsequently grew 69 percent in 2014 and the effect of this is most evidently seen in the capital. "You can probably trace it back to the bombing attacks in London in 2005," points out Simon Mottram, founder of cycling clothing firm Rapha, in a BBC report. "The day after, the tube lines were all still closed, and suddenly there were lots of people on bikes to get to work.” "Not to forget the government's Cycle To Work scheme [introduced back in 1999 and which allows people to buy a bike tax-free]. And the underlying increased focus on health and fitness” he added. Transport for London has described the shift in transport method as "a feat unprecedented in any major city.” However, change is not happening fast enough for some as London lags behind other European capitals. Such is the case with Madrid, which placed restrictions on vehicle types entering the city center. Oslo is banning all cars entering by 2019 along with large parts of the River Seine being pedestrianised in Paris. Dublin, too, will have pedestrianized areas by 2017. Cyclist safety is also hot on the agenda. In 2012, 14 cyclists died on London’s roads and a staggering 671 were severely injured. A year later, six more died in the space of three days. That period in late 2013 marked a turning point for changing attitudes towards cyclist safety in the capital. Campaigners prior to then had been calling for separate bike lanes for years, though only now are their efforts coming to fruition. Cycle “superhighways” have been introduced by Mayor Boris Johnson during his tenure, though many argue that while these are a step forward, they still fail to provide a physical barrier between cyclists and drivers. Changes, though, are still being made. Already, lower traffic lights for cyclists are being trialled across the city and new solutions are still yet to be implemented. These include a two-stage right turn system and early release for cyclists ahead of cars at traffic lights. Both can be seen in the video below. http://touchcast.files.bbci.co.uk/performances/6172b9e8049da6f6fa73b30a0ccd4f0c/A540765C-1265-4B0A-9F55-D947ACD20E0E.m4v “I think it is a lot safer for new cyclists, it will give them more confidence to cycle round London” said one commuter speaking to the BBC. According to city authorities, most superhighways should be completed by the summer. A map of all current superhighways can be seen below.
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Enrique Peñalosa plans to give Bogotá the best transit system in the developing world

An economist who once advised Colombian President Virgilio Barco, Enrique Peñalosa is now a revered urban planner in the city of Bogotá. Having once served as Bogotá mayor from 1997 to 2001, Peñalosa is now back for his second stint and pledges to provide his city with the best public transportation system in the developing world. In his first term as mayor, Peñalosa was responsible for widespread changes in infrastructure and public space in Bogotá. These included a 40 percent reduction in vehicle usage within the city; replacing parking spaces with green sidewalks and street furniture; developing the TransMilenio bus rapid transit systems; building a major public library alongside two others in low-income areas; and creating expansive green spaces. Peñalosa also pioneered regulation on social housing that included a minimum square footage on new builds. Dario Hidalgo of CityFix sings the new mayors praises, citing how the bus rapid transit system (BRT) is "one of the world’s most heavily used", with over 2 million passengers a day using the service. Like any good economist, Peñalosa is a strong supporter of efficiency and growth. Now, with his self-laid foundations,Bogotá can begin to move forward again. Not dwelling on the past, he has plans to upgrade the BRT system, merging it with the rail network as well implementing more bus lanes. On top of this, Peñalosa plans on doubling bicycle usage in Bogotá. Naturally, when a such changes are proposed, the issue of financing these changes surfaces. An estimated $13-20 billion is required with the state being left to cough up $7.1 billion after accounting for all government revenue streams. The solution? Peñalosa is seeking to implement fees for personal automobile travel into the city, similar to the congestion charge in London (which has generated $1.42 billion since 2003). Despite these possible methods of financing, it is very possible that the new Mayor will turn to the private sector to secure further funding in order to secure the implementation of the new services.
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Anything but boring: World’s largest tunnelling machine, Big Bertha, is stuck under Seattle, Tweets an interview

Big Bertha, Seattle's famous tunnel boring machine, is stuck underground again. Bertha was running for just under a month following a two year delay to fix a broken cutter head. And the machine has taken to Twitter, as we imagine it can get lonely so far beneath the city. A little over two weeks ago, a large sinkhole formed while Bertha was drilling the over-57-foot-diameter Highway 99 tunnel to replace the earthquake prone viaduct. No one knows exactly why it happened. Just earlier that day, a nearby Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) barge tilted, offloading tunnel dirt into Elliot Bay and dismantling part of a dock. The 15-foot-deep, 20-feet-wide, and 35-foot-long sinkhole was quickly filled with 250 cubic yards of concrete and sand. But Bertha is still stuck. STP wants to start Bertha again, but the Washington State Department of Transportation (WDOT) hasn't given them the necessary written permission to move forward yet. SDOT says they need more information. But enough of the dismal facts and figures. And now, for something different: The nonprofit blog Strong Towns interviewed @StuckBertha, Bertha's unofficial Twitter account, in January. Enjoy some excerpts from their tongue-in-cheek conversation, below. Check out the full interview on the Strong Towns blog. We all hope Bertha gets unstuck very soon.
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Governor Cuomo unveils ambitious plans to overhaul New York’s Penn Station

The lead-up to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address feels like a government-backed encore of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Instead of lords a-leaping and swans a-swimming, Cuomo brings infrastructure upgrades a-plenty in his 2016 Agenda. The governor promised funds to the Gateway and East Side Access tunnels, the Javits Center, new Metro-North stations in the Bronx, the MTA (wi-fi a-comin'!), and an airport on Long Island. Arguably the biggest proposal is the Empire State Complex, a $3 billion redevelopment of New York City's Penn Station and its surroundings. The plan seeks to make Penn Station, which sits beneath Madison Square Garden, less of a hellhole—nice, even. Built to accommodate 200,000 daily riders, the station now serves 650,000 people per day. Channeling public sentiment, the governor ripped on Penn Station in his announcement. "Penn station is un-New York. It is dark, constrained, ugly, a lost opportunity, a bleak warren of corridors. [It's] a miserable experience and a terrible first impression." The governor's plan calls for enhancing connectivity between the station and the street; providing wi-fi; and reducing congestion by widening existing corridors, creating better wayfinding, and improving ticketing areas. As hinted at in previous proposals, the massive, neoclassical James A. Farley Post Office, at Eighth Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets, could be converted into the "Moynihan Train Hall," a sun-drenched waiting area for Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and MTA passengers. A pedestrian tunnel underneath Eighth Avenue will connect the train hall with the main station. With this 210,000-square-foot addition, the size of the station will increase by 50 percent. The governor reviewed possible redesign scenarios. In one, Madison Square Garden Theater would be demolished to make way for a block-long entrance to Penn Station, facing the post office. In another, a glassy entrance, with skylights, would be constructed on 33rd Street. The street would be closed and converted into a pedestrian plaza. A third, more minimal scenario would add entrances at street corners and mid-block. In 2013, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) hosted a competition to rethink Penn Station. MAS highlighted designs four firms—Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)—for an improved Penn Station. In addition to improved passenger flow, each proposal imagined the station as a civic hub and neighborhood anchor. The governor said that this would phase of the project would be completed first. The rest of the overhaul could be complete by 2019, an amazing feat in a city where infrastructure improvements can drag on for decades. The Empire State Development Corporation, the MTA, Amtrak and the LIRR will parter with private developers to spearhead the project. $2 billion will go towards the Empire State Complex, while $1 billion will go towards "retail development" on 7th and 9th avenues. $325 million is expected to come from state and federal governments. The rest of the project will be privately funded, in exchange of revenue generated by commercial and retail rents. Cuomo will be issuing invitations to private developers, with an April 2016 due date. Currently, Vornado Realty Trust manages land around Penn Station, though it's unclear whether this relationship will continue.