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.
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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.
Attention riders: All L train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Manhattan beginning January 2019. The MTA announced today that the Canarsie Tunnel which brings L train riders under the East River will be closed for 18 months to repair damage wrought by 2012's Hurricane Sandy. In four community meetings this spring, the agency reviewed repair scenarios and solicited New Yorkers' feedback on partial and full tunnel shutdown scenarios. The full closure option was chosen over a one-track-at-a-time three-year closure. Although residents in L-dependent neighborhoods had mixed feelings about the inevitable closure, all 11 Community Boards along the L were "overwhelmingly in favor" of a total shutdown. Repairs will target damaged signals, switches, tracks, power cables, and other infrastructure that was corroded by salt water when seven miles of the tunnel flooded. Upgrades will be made to stations closest to the river, as well. “Approximately 80 percent of riders will have the same disruptions with either option. Throughout our extensive outreach process and review, it became clear that the 18-month closure was the best construction option and offered the least amount of pain to customers for the shortest period of time,” NYCT president Veronique ‘Ronnie’ Hakim stated. “The 18-month option is also the most efficient way to allow MTA to do the required work. It gives us more control over the work site and allows us to offer contractor incentives to finish the work as fast as possible. We think it is better to have a shorter duration of pain than a longer more unstable process—and risk unplanned closures—by leaving one track open during construction.” Although the MTA is formulating a transportation plan for the Brooklyn-Manhattan commute, perhaps it's time to seriously consider some alternative options. Newtown Creek water shuttle, anyone?
On Monday Governor Cuomo unveiled designs for the renovation of 31 subway stations stations and hundreds of new subway cars. 1,025 cars will sport new features, inside and out, while 750 new cars will be "Open Car End" designs, so passengers flow will be enhanced but there will be no more fleeing the dreaded stink car. "The MTA is the circulatory system for the metropolitan area. If you want to grow the metropolitan area, if you want to sustain the metropolitan area, the answer cannot be that people get in their cars and commute to work. That just does not work," Cuomo said at a press conference. "The volume just cannot be handled by the current road transportation system. The MTA is going to have to increase their capacity to manage that higher volume." For those anxious that the MTA may draw on the vast reservoir of design talent in the city, worry not. The new stations and cars look sleek, but not radically so. The open-tube designs are intended to reduce crowding by more evenly distributing the number of passengers on the train while wider doors will speed up entry and exit time by one third. In addition to wi-fi and USB charging ports at stations and in cars, security is paramount: The governor highlighted the presence of surveillance cameras on platforms and inside trains. The investments are part of the agency's $27 billion, five-year capital plan. The MTA is using design-build contracts to speed up the project timeline: "We have had enough experience to know the best way to do this now is contract the entire project to a private sector developer who does this, who can design the project to your specifications, can build the project, is incentivized to get it done quickly, and is penalized if they are late. These endless construction projects, that just go on and on and on, and they seemingly have no end, have to stop. We need a different way to do business which is design-build," Cuomo declared. Stations will be completely closed during renovations to further expedite the process. The first of several Requests for Proposals for the renovations will be released this week.
The non-profit group Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) has filed a federal class action lawsuit against the MTA over a Bronx subway station that remains inaccessible to wheelchairs despite a major overhaul. According to DRA, the MTA’s failure to make the station wheelchair accessible is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects people from discrimination based on disability. The Middletown Road station in the Bronx was closed between October 2013 and May 2014 for improvements, which included replacing staircases and other parts of the structure. The costly renovation also included new ceilings, walls, and floors, but failed to add an elevator. The station lies in the middle of a four mile stretch—which contains ten stops on the 6 line—that are not wheelchair accessible. According to the DRA, New York City has one of the worst public transportation systems in the country for handicapped people, with only 19% of subway stations accessible to wheelchairs compared to 100% of stations in Washington, D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area. While city busses are all wheelchair accessible, they're often a much slower and less efficient way to get around. According to DNAinfo, the MTA claims it was not in violation of the ADA because adding an elevator would have been impossible due to the physical constrains of the station. The DRA asserts that it could've been done. Minor accessibility improvements to the station were implemented, including new handrails and tactile signs. The suit, which was filed on behalf of Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS) and Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York (DIA), claims that an elevator would have been technically feasible. According to Anthony Trocchia, President of DIA, the suit is meant to call attention to the broader issue of wheelchair accessibility on the New York City subway system.