Posts tagged with "MTA":

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Slideshow> Construction Update at Manhattan's 7 Line Subway Extention

Manhattan's newest neighborhood at Hudson Yards broke ground one week ago today, but the West Side area can be tricky to get to using the city's existing subway system. In 2014, however, the rumbling of trains far beneath the city's streets will stretch west from Times Square, extending the 7 Line subway a mile and a half over to 34th Street and 11th Avenue where Hudson Yards' first tower will be rapidly climbing at 30th Street and 10th Avenue. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has now shared a series of photos of the $2.4 billion, city-funded project, showing quite a bit of progress since AN toured the site one year ago this month. Most notable are the web of miles of conduit lining the walls and ceilings of the tunnels and the nearly complete ventilation towers rising near the Javits Center. Eventually, interior fit-ups will finish off the station's sleek interior with curving walls designed by Dattner Architects.
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Tragedy and Trials for Number 7

It was a tragic day for the Number 7 train extension project yesterday. A crane collapse killed one worker and injured four others on Manhattan's far west side. According to The New York Times the accident occurred around 7:30PM killing Michael Simermeyer of New Jersey. The accident occurs less than one month after crane collapse at One World Trade sent steel beams tumbling forty stories. Regional transportation also suffered a significant blow. Earlier in the day MTA chairman Joseph Lhota said that the proposed extension to Secaucus was not going to happen. The Wall Street Journal reports that Lhota gave the bad news to a group of construction industry officials. "I know there's an effort afoot to try to get the subway system to go to New Jersey. I told the mayor this, I told the deputy mayor this: I can't see this happening in our lifetime," he said.
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LA Parking Lot becomes Urban Oasis

What's the best place to build a wetland? How about at the site of an old MTA bus lot in South Los Angeles? It took more than $26 million and nearly three years to complete the transformation from parking lot to urban wetland. Open to the public as of February 9, the new South Los Angeles Wetland Park that doesn't only efficiently process storm water runoff--it also provides crucial community green space. As with many industrial environments, polluted storm water runs nearly unchecked to local water bodies, damaging habitats and freshwater supplies with the incursion of urban toxins. Before it was settled, South Los Angeles teemed with wildlife, oak forests, and dendritic streams feeding the Los Angeles River, but now that land has evolved into an impenetrable concrete cap. With backing from city councilwoman, Jan Perry, and  funds from Proposition O, the new park will reactivate the area's natural  functions with kidney-shaped storm water pools, deep cleaning retention basins, and banks of native plants chosen for their ability to clean water. The nine-acre site will also provide meandering boardwalks and promenades that traverse the wetland and create an urban oasis for an area of Los Angeles that sorely lacks green space. It takes a lot of time and a lot of space to clean up the runoff our cities create. Artificial wetlands may never serve the ecological functions once provided by the natural wetlands destroyed by development. However, there are environmental lessons in South Los Angeles to be learned by every city in the country. Blighted industrial lowlands? why not build a wetland?
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Quick Clicks> Domed City, Guggenheim on hold, Google's Secret Project, No-bin experiment

City of Scientists. Russian Prime Minister Putin has recently reviewed plans for a potential $6.4 billion project that could build a 5,000-person—scientists and researchers, specifically—domed village in the Arctic called Umka, about 1,000 miles from the North Pole. Plans call for an isolated artificial climate inspired by “an imaginary Moon city or a completely isolated space station." More on the Daily Mail and Foreign Policy Blogs. Abu Dhabi Adjourned. The new 450,000-square-foot Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum planned in Abu Dhabi has been put on hold pending contract review. A similar fate awaits Jean Nouvel's Louvre satellite previously scheduled to open near Gehry's site next year. More at Mediabistro. Sergey's Secret. Due to his prolific work ethic, the insider joke at Google is that co-founder Sergey Brin is really Batman. More believable, the latest Google rumor is that one of Brin's secret pet-projects may very well be architectural, with blueprints and all. Business Insider has details. No bin, no trash. The NY Times reports on the MTA's seemingly counter-intuitive enviro-social experiment to remove trash cans from subway platforms. The idea: no garbage bin might be the way to achieve no litter. A trial run in Queens and Greenwich Village left some people very unhappy.
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Inside Archtober "Building" of the Day #24: Subway Vent Benches

Even though Hurricane Irene blew through on August 27th without flooding the subways, which were rendered prophylactically still and silent for a day, a pesky summer storm in 2007 dumped so much water onto the M and R lines that they were forced out of service. Governor Spitzer took immediate action to mitigate the problem, and boldly mobilized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation to do something about it. Solving a range of engineering problems while at the same time providing a streetscape element with some wit and whimsy, Rogers Marvel Architects created banks of raised stainless steel grates that rise up into an undulating wave of slats and hammered speckled side walls. There are three typical grates designed for specific water overflow depths. They can be combined in a left- or right-hand fashion to create the continuous surface over the structural grates below. In case you were wondering, they won’t stop a truck, but happily no Louboutin heels snapped off here! The AIANY Design Awards jury liked it too, giving the project an Honor Award, citing: “This is a really utilitarian solution infused with public art and design innovation.” For the info on the tour of tomorrow’s Building of the Day click here: Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
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Quick Clicks> Cul-de-Sack, Talking Transit, Hollywood Project, Park(ing) Police

Cul-de-Sacked. Emily Badger of The Atlantic's newly launched Atlantic Cities argued that the cul-de-sacs—the suburban answer to the overcrowded urban grids—may be a dead-end in more ways that one. Badger said cul-de-sacs are responsible for our decreased sense of safety, and moreover, happiness. Talking Transit. Gothamist is right on calling out New York's MTA as being "really into technology this month." In a win for the constantly connected and a potential loss for our already-hectic commutes, starting Tuesday, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers can pull out their cell phones and talk away on underground cell service through the 14th Street corridor. It will take the MTA five years to fully cover the entire New York subway system. Five more years of relative peace-and-quiet. Paramount Makeover. The LA Times reported that Paramount Pictures is planning a whopping $700-million upgrade to its Hollywood lot, creating nearly 7,300 jobs during construction over next two decades. Rios Clemente Hale Studios and Levin & Associates Architects are charged with improving a place that hasn't seen much change since the Gary Cooper days without compromising its old Hollywood charm. Park(ing) police. A Miami-based PARK(ing) Day organizer created a green oasis for the day-long celebration of public space, putting up planters and bringing seats, tables, and WiFi, but according to police, he lingered a little too long. Police arrested the man for taking too long to clean up his parklet the next day, reported Streetsblog.  
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Pictorial> MTA Perseveres through Hurricane Irene

So Hurricane Tropical Storm Irene has come and gone, leaving most of New York City unscathed. It looks like some 700 trees were downed across the city and we're sure a few patio chairs ran away from home, but luckily for the city, the storm lost its might as it raged toward Gotham. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority prepared for the worst before the storm, shutting down the city's transit system electively for the first time (the system was also shut down after 9/11 and a power blackout). The agency has released an amazing set of photos of its preparation and cleanup after the storm including dramatic views of an abandoned Grand Central Station, mudslides, and flooded tracks. Take a look after the jump. Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.
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Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard's Demise

High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: "It looks like Scott's tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!" Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak's coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it's time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign. Buffalo's Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That's what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley's hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with "young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work." Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country's oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.
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Quick Clicks> Piano, Plazas, Babbling, Budget Cuts

Manhattanville's Piano. While tallying who is the biggest landlord in New York (it's still the church by a hair), The Observer uncovered a few new views of Renzo Piano's Jerome L. Green Science Center at Columbia's Manhattanville campus, seen here next to a train viaduct. Pedestrianizing New York. The remaking of New York's public spaces continues its forward march. Brownstoner has details on the planned pedestrian plaza on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and StreetsBlog highlights DOT's plans to create a permanent block-long Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights. Archi-babble. Witold Rybczynski talkes issue with architecture's professional jargon in Slate, including a beginner's guide to commonly used words from assemblage to gesamtkunstwerk. What's your favorite word from the language of architecture? Subway Squeeze. We're not talking about your crowded commute, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to trim $100 million from transit. Transportation Nation and StreetsBlog have the details and implications for getting around New York.
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The Perils of Subway Naming Rights

Our favorite wonky MTA blog has an interesting and funny post about how quickly and easily naming rights on a public transit system can get, in this case down in Philadelphia. While we all know transit systems are in trouble and should probably go about getting money wherever they can—short of more draconian fare increases, let's hope—it is easy to go too far on the naming rights front, not only into parody but confusion. While it may be a bit unseemly that the MTA tried to charge the Yankees for the rights to have their name at a refurbished 161st stop last year, and that Barclays is actually paying up for the rights in Brooklyn, yet another advertising assault on our public lives. But SEPTA has gone a step further, renaming its Pattison Avenue Terminal to AT&T Station. Unlike the Barclays annoyance, this could be downright confusing because there is no geographical relevance here, nothing AT&T about this station. As another blogger puts it on SAS: "The whole situation raises the frightening prospect in the near future that, instead of riding the Broad Street Subway from City Hall to Pattison, people will take the Coca-Cola Trolley from Pizza Hut to AT&T."

Some Serious Equipment

It would appear the Second Avenue Subway is really, truly happening. Not to have doubted all the construction work that's gone on so far, but we have been-there-done-that about half-a-dozen times over the past century. Now, however, the 200-ton Cutter Head has arrived, the main piece of the Tunnel Boring Machine that will begin carving out the tunnels for the first phase of the new line. The MTA posted some pretty cool pics of the device, including the one above, on its Facebook page. And if that weren't socially networked enough, there's a YouTube flick of the thing being lowered underground with a soundtrack that sounds oddly like that of a softcore sex scene in some '90s movie. Second Avenue Sagas points out that this is largely "symbolic," as the real challenge, technically and fiscally, is not digging but building the lines and stations. That said, we still wonder if all this money wouldn't be better spent on maintaining service than pushing ahead with capital projects, even if it does mean their nth death. While you ponder, the flick and more pics after the jump.
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Blood on the Tracks

The MTA finally passed its so-called Doomsday Budget today. If this comes as a surprise, well, you're not the only one taken aback. Last year, the transit authority was in a similar predicament—in part because the Legislature refused to implement congestion pricing but mostly because of the recession. But, as with most things in (at least New York) politics, an eleventh hour deal was brokered and the funds were found to stave off the draconian cuts. We figured that would be the case this time around, especially since the MTA's new and particularly shrewd boss Jay Walder made all the right cuts that would be politically unpalatable for Albany to keep in place, like, say, Student MetroCards. So then why did they pass? Granted the cuts will not go into effect until June, so there is still time to avert some, if not all, of them, though that is seemingly increasingly impossible. The reason is there simply isn't enough money to go around anymore to fill these gaping holes. The city is on the verge of axing thousands of teachers because the Paterson administration has raided those funds as well—the MTA lost $143 million to the state budget, coupled with a poor return on those eleventh hour bailouts, like a new payroll tax. We asked transit sage Gene Russianoff, head of the Straphangers Campaign, how it came to this, and he basically agreed that we've reached bone. "Tight money is part of the problem. Competition with education and health care for scarce money is not to transit's advantage," Russianoff wrote in an email. "There's also MTA's lack of credibility with public. Elected officials believe people will blame MTA and not them for service cuts. Jay Walder believes he needs to downsize agency to make every dollar count to buid up lost credibility." There is still hope, should the agency decide to trim its capital funds, as the Straphangers and City Council have been advocating, but the MTA continues to oppose such cuts, arguing they're worse than reduced service. We can keep our fingers crossed for more stimulus funds, or perhaps complain to Bruce Ratner. But it's starting to look like our last best hope might be good old-fashioned prayer.