Posts tagged with "New Jersey":

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U.S Department of Transportation withdraws from $24 billion Gateway Program

Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated commitment to building new infrastructure, the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) has withdrawn its cooperation from a massive $24 billion transportation project between New York and New Jersey, as reported by New York Daily News. The Gateway Program Development Corporation planned to bring a new rail bridge, Portal North, to Newark as well as a new tunnel under the Hudson River that was meant to replace the existing, crumbling tunnel that suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy. The program also looked to expand Penn Station and build new bridges to better connect Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. However, the DOT notified the Gateway’s board of trustees of their withdrawal last Friday. "It is not DOT’s standard practice to serve in such a capacity on other local transportation projects," read the letter to the Gateway board of trustees, which also counts Amtrak and board members from the New York and New Jersey Port Authority as members. Plans to build the new tunnel have been in the works since the Obama administration, where a deal was struck so that New York and New Jersey officials would take on half of the costs while the federal government and Amtrak would undertake the other half. Trump had also included the Gateway program in his list of "Emergency & National Security Projects," a list of about 50 national infrastructure projects that was first published in January by the Kansas City Star. The Gateway project has been billed as one of the largest regional transit projects in the Northeast, one that would address the growing number of commuters from New Jersey as well as the region’s deteriorating infrastructure. The current two-tube tunnel linking New Jersey and Penn Station shuttle more than 200,000 riders daily. If one tube fails before new tunnels are built, capacity could be reduced by 75 percent, according to Amtrak. The DOT clarified their withdrawal, saying that “the decision underscores the department’s commitment to ensuring there is no appearance of prejudice or partiality in favor of these projects ahead of hundreds of other projects nationwide,” in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.
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How is the New Jersey Meadowlands planning for climate change?

Although many in the tristate area know it as a place to just drive through, the New Jersey Meadowlands is a critical micro-region just west of New York City. A quarter-million people commute on Amtrak and local rail through the area every day, and it’s the warehouse and distribution hub for the region—Amazon just purchased a 600,000-square-foot warehouse there, near the Teterboro Airport, to expedite its shipping operations. With 800 acres of preserved wetlands, the Meadowlands also sustains fisheries and migrating birds. That ecology co-exists with critical infrastructure: power and wastewater treatment plants, as well as petroleum production, but its soil and water holds contaminants that pose great risk to human health. Together, the value of all property in the Meadowlands is assessed at $6.2 billion.

The low-lying area is also particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. Last Friday at Assembly, the Regional Plan Association’s annual conference, stakeholders convened to discuss its future. Facing Climate Change in the Meadowlands” brought together Robert Ceberio, president and founder of consulting firm RCM Ceberio; Stephen Dilts, office leader at New Jersey’s HNTB, an infrastructure planning firm; Debbie Mans, executive director of NY/NJ Baykeeper; and Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, principal of Catherine Seavitt Studio and assistant professor of landscape architecture at CUNY. The talk was moderated by Eugenie Birch, the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

The panel raised big questions: Where do we retreat from, and where do we protect? How can fixed infrastructure be adapted? How will resiliency planning sustain natural ecosystems? And—with sea levels projected to rise three feet in the next 60 to 80 years—how soon can we start?

From 1969 through the early 2000s, the Meadowland’s growth was guided by a master plan. That plan called for the major development of the wetlands, backed by literal tons of infill (the debris from Penn Station and the London blitz lives there now, below some NJ Turnpike spur). After the plan expired in 2004, the residential population dropped to 30,000 from 70,000 while commercial space more than doubled to 6.5 million square feet of warehouses, stores, and offices.

It used to be that no one cared about the health of the wetlands, Ceberio said. The former executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission added that now, though, “resiliency and flood control is on the top of everyone’s mind,” When planning the area, “we used to look at heights of buildings in relation to the Teterboro Airport. Now we’re looking at FEMA maps.”

But the will to act is another question. “Are people in state and federal government are going to step up and do it?” he asked, sort of rhetorically, but other panelists were eager to jump in.

The lack of a major plan—and a timeline—for sustaining a critical area was a running theme, foreshadowing words of warning from conference keynote Joe Biden. The former vice president told elected officials, planners, and AEC professionals in the audience to “stop being polite” and “sound the alarm” on the “shameful” state of the region’s infrastructure. “You need to start shouting about how bad things are,” he said.

In New Jersey, at least, the stakeholders are vocal. Debbie Mans said that obstacles to resiliency planning abounded. Since the state legislature dissolved the Meadowlands Commission seven years ago, she said, there’s been a piecemeal approach to what should be a comprehensive regional strategy. She took issue with grand plans put forth by Rebuild By Design, HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition. The plans called for hard and soft infrastructure, including a wall in the middle of the wetland. They're soft, Mans said, is levees and berms. But with green infrastructure already intact, “bisecting and filling it intuitively doesn’t make sense.” The implementation, too, is scattershot; she questioned what the state and the region would receive for the millions being spent in the Meadowlands.

There was a consensus among panelists that more needed to be done to re-orient the crisis-by-crisis response approach towards a more proactive planning framework. Ceberio pointed out that the Gateway Program's tunnel entry point is in the Meadowlands. (The project will build a massive rail tunnel under the Hudson River to replace Hurricane Sandy–damaged tubes used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.) But he noted climate change puts the project in a precarious position: “If flood scenarios become reality those tunnels are gone. Gone!”

Beyond trains, around 1,900 people in the area could be displaced due to rising sea levels within the next 30 years. Despite the risks, residents want to stay. But there are hard conversations that need to happen. When people are passionate about a place like residents are about the Meadowlands, “they do things to sustain it,” Seavitt said. “In all of its tawdriness, it’s beautiful.” There's a long way to go: “If there was a reasonable, strategic, well-thought-out plan we’d get behind it,” said Mans. “But we don’t see that right now.”

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Port Authority Bus Terminal to get total reset and other breaking news from annual RPA conference

The Regional Plan Association (RPA)'s Assembly conference in New York City, which focuses on urban planning, infrastructure, and transportation, was marked by an acute sense of crises and challenge. "You need to start shouting about how bad things are, how irresponsible" we've been as a nation, former Vice President Joe Biden told the audience. He bellowed how the U.S.'s infrastructure released a D+ rating. Biden was on hand to receive the RPA's John Zuccotti Award. In addition to being a longtime advocate for Amtrack, the noted train enthusiast Biden administered the infrastructure-heavy American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It's an "easy message to deliver," he said, "that our infrastructure is crumbling and making America less competitive." Challenges associated with major projects like the Gateway Program (which promises new rail tunnels under the Hudson, among other improvements), the Second Avenue Subway, and a new Port Authority Bus Terminal loomed large as the conference started off. In the Assembly's large morning panel, Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), highlighted how the region's "accountability and governance model" needs to be reviewed. If government officials have clear ownership, it's better, she said, citing Governor Cuomo's intervention into the Second Avenue Subway. Rohit Aggarwala, chief policy officer of Sidewalk Labs and co-chair of the RPA's Fourth Regional Plan, gave a preview of what the RPA would propose when the Plan comes out later this year. "What has happened to these institutions?" he asked, arguing that it wasn't politics, ineptitude, nor lack of funding that was causing major regional transportation projects to falter and slow. It's the "very shape and structure of these agencies" that were the cause, he said, adding that they're "deeply flawed" in how they're organized, funded, and how responsibilities are divided. He discussed how other global cities, such as London, Honk Kong, and Los Angeles, have all restructured their transportation agencies in the last 20 or so years, consolidating power on a more local level or finding new arrangements more reflective of their needs. "It is time for reinvention," he concluded, saying the Fourth Plan would address these issues head-on. (He gave no concrete hints about the Plan itself, though in one example of dysfunction, he cited how commuter rail authorities are divided by the Hudson.)
There were major project updates at the "Crossing the Hudson" panel, which sought to address the fundamental challenge of improving transportation across (and under) the Hudson to connect New York and New Jersey. Tom Wright, president of the RPA, kicked off the panel by showing how New Jersey added 65,000 new cross-Hudson commuters from 1990 to 2010 and stood to add another 75,000 from 2010 to 2040. (By another estimate, it would be 110,000 by 2040 if you include New Jersey commuters going to all five boroughs.) Forty-three percent of current commutes happen via bus and a new Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) is desperately needed. Additionally, if one track is lost on the current 106-year-old rail tunnel under the Hudson, Penn Station can only handle six trains during a peak hour (as compared to 24 otherwise).
Put simply, "New Jersey transit systems are in a state of crises," said panel member and New Jersey State Senator Robert Gordon. While PATH is in decent shape funding-wise (thanks to PANYNJ tolls), the rest of the state's transit system is severely underfunded. John Porcari, interim executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corporation, framed the challenge a little differently: 10 percent of the country's GDP is in the New York metro area, but crossing the Hudson via rail its "single point of failure." A new rail bridge, dubbed the Portal Bridge and located over the Hackensack River, is ready for construction but is awaiting federal funding. The new rail tunnel's environmental impact statement should be released in 60 days, Pocari added, and a financing plan is also in the works. Those two projects (the new bridge and tunnel) constitute phase one of the Gateway Program; phase two includes a new Penn Station. Biden called the tunnel "literally the single most important project in the country." A new PABT is also essential to the trans-Hudson transportation question; the current station will require replacement in 15 to 20 years due to structural deterioration, said Andrew Lynn, director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ)'s Planning and Regional Development Department. (Lynn sometimes holds meetings with local officials and stakeholders in the PABT, using the shaking walls to drive home his point.) The PANYNJ has about $3.5 billion set aside for the terminal, but despite numerous attempts to formulate a plan over the years, none have been successful. The PANYNJ is effectively "pushing the reset button" on the project, and while the group will learn from past failures, "we're really starting over," he said. (Gordon suggested expanding the current PABT upwards by building off the current structure. This would expand capacity while minimzing local impact.) However, Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), countered that "global cities are not building big bus terminals"; rail is much more efficient. "One enormous bus terminal" is not the solution, she said, citing the failings of Robert Moses and how "we don't think that way now." Lastly, the panel touched on the replacement and expansion of Penn Station. Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of Practice for Architecture Urbanism, who has put forward a plan to adapt the existing structure, explained his plan to move Madison Square Garden to the back of the old Farley Building, allowing the adaptive reuse of the current Garden's superstructure for a new train station that would make the neighborhood a "world-class address." (ReThink Studio, who was also present at the Assembly, has critiqued aspects of this plan.) Chakrabarti also sounded the alarm that office space might be built in the back of the Farley Building to fund Amtrack's construction of a new Amtrack platforms on the rails that run under the Farley Building. Those platforms, he added, would only serve Amtrack and exclude regional rail. He also warned that the current Penn Station was a safety hazard awaiting disaster: with such low ceilings, for instance, a smoke event would be disastrous in the already-overcapacity space. In sum, the panel portrayed a moment of crises but also a potential reconsideration of the current status quo. Once the current crises have been averted, panelists agreed it would make the most sense for New Jersey to emphasize trains over buses for a trans-Hudson commute, as rail is overall far more efficient (albeit also more expensive) a system for moving people. After this, an afternoon panel, "Planning for the Transportation Revolution," sought to address how ride sharing and autonomous vehicle could reshape the urban landscape. Bruce Schaller, principal at Schaller Consulting (which specializes in urban transportation policy), and Matt Wing, corporate communications lead at Uber, both highlighted how Transportation Network Companies (TNCs, such as Uber and Lyft) have filled in gaps created by public transportation. Forty percent of Uber's New York City rides are in the outer boroughs and never touch Manhattan, which serves as little surprise given only one subway line (the G) doesn't pass through Manhattan. TNCs, Wing explained, are also serving as critical links in the "last mile" problem of getting people to mass transit stations. (See AN's transportation feature on Miami for more on this.) Jessica Robinson, director of city solutions at Ford Smart Mobility, revealed that Ford aimed to have a production-ready Level 4 self-driving car by 2021. (Level 4 means no steering wheel, gas pedal, or anything else drivers must operate.) Given their cost, said Robinson, such cars will almost certainly be owned and operated by ride-sharing companies. Seeking to stay at the forefront of mobility solutions, Ford also bought Chariot, a TNC that operates 14-passenger ride-sharing vehicles and aims to reinvent mass transit. It was Robin Chase, the co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, who gave the most impassioned presentation. "Cities are in a one-time position of power," she said, to dictate the terms of how autonomous vehicles should operate before they're legally allowed in major cities. She's currently organizing a global coalition of mayor to negotiate with large companies. Her top priorities include: ensuring all vehicles are electric, creating a level playing field for competition among ride-sharing companies, and negotiating new forms of ride sharing taxation based on distance traveled, curb rights, fuel type, and other factors. Conventional taxation based on registration fees, gasoline tax, and tolls may not be an option when autonomous vehicles hit the road. Overall, the panel argued that anything less than all-electronic fleets of competing ride share companies would be a major loss for cities. In that scenario, there are fewer and much cleaner cars on the road, and vast amounts of parking and curbside space would be made available for public use.
For more on major transportations plans, don't miss the upcoming Plan 2050 at the Cooper Union, this May 9!
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Port Authority approves $32 billion capital plan with funding for new tunnels and terminals

After months of planning, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has approved a $32.2 billion capital plan, the largest in the agency's history. The 10-year plan is bullish on public-private partnerships to support the costs of its projects at the region's airports, bridges, tunnels, and terminals. Although some big-ticket items, like the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, are new construction, much of the budget goes towards repairing or upgrading existing infrastructure. See the highlights from the plan, below:
Planes This $11.6 billion segment allocates $4 billion for a LaGuardia Terminal B replacement and puts funds toward the revitalization of John F. Kennedy International Airport. In New Jersey, work will move forward at Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport. Trains The agency is putting $2.7 billion towards debt service on to-be-borrowed money for a new and sorely needed trans-Hudson rail line between New York and New Jersey. In Jersey, the PATH's older stations will be rebuilt, as well, and new infrastructure will enable PATH trains to run from Newark Penn Station (the current terminus) to Newark Liberty's AirLink station. Additional dollars will support an AirTrain to LaGuardia, a sister link to the line that already serves JFK. Automobiles Another $10 billion will go towards the Goethals Bridge replacement, the rebuilding of the Bayonne Bridge, renovations to the George Washington Bridge, and the planning and construction for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal. The capital plan puts $3.5 billion towards this item, but stakeholders are still discussing where, exactly, the new terminal should go. Proposals from a September design competition pegged the cost of a new terminal at $3 billion to $15 billion, so the agency's allocation may be too low. “This region needs state-of-the-art airports, new mass transit infrastructure and bridges designed to handle 21st-century traffic levels if we are to meet growth projections,” said Port Authority executive director Pat Foye, in a statement. “This 10-year plan provides a record level of investment in all of these areas that will meet and support the region’s growth and serve as a major job creator for the next decade.”
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Penn Station proposals fail to recognize unique opportunity to improve regional transit

The redesign of Penn Station offers not just a chance to raise the building’s roof, but is also a unique opportunity to unify the region’s disparate rail networks in a way that has not been possible in over a century. Unfortunately, the recent proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) don’t think broadly enough about the underlying transportation problems afflicting the station and, worse yet, they solidify its already dysfunctional setup.

Most of Penn’s issues are founded in its overloaded capacity. When the station opened in 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad was one of eight railroads providing service into New York City. While other railroads terminated at waterfront stations, the Pennsylvania Railroad was the first railroad to cross the Hudson and East Rivers. Its Midtown Manhattan station provided through service for long-distance trains and terminal service for commuter rail from New Jersey and Long Island.

This is how the station still operates today, with one crucial difference: Over the past century, all the waterfront terminals except Hoboken have been closed, and the trains that served them have been largely rerouted into Penn. The resulting congestion has been exacerbated since the 1990s by a shift in preference toward Midtown’s office district and New Jersey Transit’s decision to reroute as many lines as possible into Penn.

Today, Penn Station serves 650,000 commuters each day. That is more than twice as many at its peak in the 1940s, and three times what its initial design accommodated. Furthermore, both New Jersey Transit and Metro-North would like to bring even more trains into Penn—both from existing and proposed routes. Expanded service into Penn Station will not be possible without significantly increasing its capacity—a need that Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals ignore in lieu of retail space and glass ceilings.

Understanding Penn’s capacity limitations (and how to solve them) is critical to a good design. They exist in three forms: passenger crowding, train traffic, and systematic connectivity issues to the rest of the region. On a passenger level, overcrowding is mitigated through staged boarding, or letting passengers onto the tracks only after trains arrive and unload. This produces chaotic lines and rushed transfers, especially in the area of the station that NJ Transit uses. Images of Governor Cuomo and PAU’s proposals suggest that the platform width and vertical access would both remain unchanged in the new Penn Station. Preserving existing stairs to the platform level, as PAU proposes, is not enough; Penn needs more vertical access. Rather than working to preserve inadequate stairwells to the platform level, we should be fighting for more stairs and escalators.

On a track level, the station is also hopelessly congested. Incoming trains often have to wait in tunnels for ten minutes or more as other trains exit the station. This is because the station is operated primarily as a terminal rather than a through station. Trains must cross each other as they enter and leave the station. Through-running avoids this problem by scheduling eastbound traffic on southern tracks and westbound traffic on northern tracks. Each train could enter the station, unload and load passengers, and continue on without ever crossing oncoming traffic.

Penn’s present configuration makes through-running impossible because only two tracks connect to Penn from New Jersey, while four tracks connect to the station from Queens. Amtrak’s current Gateway proposal would remedy this by building two additional tracks between Penn and New Jersey.

Unfortunately, none of the schemes put forward thus far recognize this unprecedented opportunity to expand the station’s capacity.

PAU’s analysis of Penn’s lack of connectivity at the neighborhood scale only tells half of the story. As a transit hub, the most important function of Penn Station is not on foot at street level, but underground at a track level. Furthermore, as one of the two regional rail hubs in New York, a redesign of Penn Station offers a uniquely valuable position to solve numerous problems at just as many scales. The schemes put forward thus far fail to look beyond the neighboring blocks of Midtown Manhattan.

Our ReThinkNYC proposal does. By understanding the regional importance of Penn Station, we are able to use infrastructural opportunities to not just solve present day problems within the station, but to improve connectivity on a regional scale.

We would reduce passenger crowding by extending all platforms to pass below neighboring Moynihan Station, currently the Farley Post Office. Some platforms already extend under Moynihan and other platforms should be extended as well. This would increase stair and escalator access to platforms for every carrier. We would widen the platforms, reducing the current 21 tracks to 12. This potentially counterintuitive move has significant benefits: Wider platforms allow passengers to board safely and quickly at track level, much like New York’s subway service, and this would decrease the amount of time each train would need to sit at its platform. By staging this work, it would be possible to extend and widen the platforms without interrupting service. We would use the new Gateway tunnels to implement through-running at Penn, allowing trains to enter and leave the station efficiently, without crossing each other’s paths. By permitting carriers to bring more trains through the station, Penn will be able to serve a growing New York City for years to come.

Not only will these track-level changes increase passenger and train capacity, but by bringing more trains through the station, we can dramatically improve the city’s connectivity as a whole. This includes NJ Transit trains that currently only go to Hoboken, LIRR lines that need more service but have no track space at Penn, and some Metro-North cars, that would be diverted from Grand Central. Furthermore, bringing Metro-North into Penn would have the added benefit of unifying the region’s three commuter rail lines into one station.

Redesigning Penn Station is about understanding its role within the New York region as a whole. The Gateway tunnels and Moynihan Station present a once-in-a-century opportunity to make Penn a transportation hub that both serves and stimulates the entire New York region. Proposals for vaulted ceilings and inspiring spaces would certainly make the station more beautiful, but are incomplete gestures if they fail to also address the more serious issues on a track and capacity level. In Penn Station, we have a rare opportunity to create a world-class station with the capacity and connectivity that New York needs. To give the city anything less would be a detriment not just to the station, but the region as a whole.

For more on ReThinkNYC, visit their website.

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Train crashes into Hoboken station leaving three dead

At least three people have died and more than 100 people have been injured after a train crashed into Hoboken Station, north New Jersey this morning. The incident occurred during the morning rush hour and has caused significant damage to the station. According to the BBC, some people are still reportedly trapped inside train carriages.

A photo posted by DJ SupaDice (@djsupadice) on

Local bus and ferry services have been accepting train tickets in wake of the crash as rail services both into and out of the station have been stopped. Uber meanwhile has said that all rides taken from "Hoboken train station since the accident will also be refunded."

Hoboken is a terminus and is the last stop for many commuters travelling from the west into New York City. The station is NJ Transit's fifth busiest and sees 15,000 boardings each weekday.

“There are fatalities,” said an unidentified senior transportation official speaking in the New York Times. “There are a significant number of injuries. The train was going very fast. There are structural concerns about the facility.” Images and video footage of the aftermath depicts extensive damage to the train station, with a portion of the roof caved into the concourse.

"I wasn't on the train, but I arrived just after it happened," eyewitness Ben Fairclough told the BBC. There was water coming down off the roof and people climbing out through the windows. There were people sitting down with blood coming from their head. There were lots of injuries."

As to why the incident happened, there has so far been no response from the National Transportation Safety Board.     Speaking of the incident, commuter Jason Danahy who was on the train, told the New York Times how the train came to an abrupt stop as it came into the station. “From the fifth car, it felt like a major skid,” he said. “A creaking noise and a skid. I was lucky to be on the fifth car.” “I saw bloody noses,” he added. “I saw people crying.”
 
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CetraRuddy will convert the art deco New Jersey Bell Headquarters Building into condos

  New York architecture, planning and interior design firm CetraRuddy are set to transform the New Jersey Bell Headquarters Building tower in Newark. Built in 1929, the historic tower was designed by prolific Manhattan architect, Ralph Walker. The 436,000-square-foot tower, which sits on 540 Broad Street in Newark, will be repurposed to accommodate 260 apartments and 60,000 square feet of office and retail space. Existing tenants like Verizon, whose headquarters are located in the building, are due to remain. CetraRuddy, run by husband and wife John Cetra and Nancy J. Ruddy, has a strong pedigree in conversion projects. The firm are no stranger to Walker's designs, having worked on the Walker and Stella Towers in Manhattan previously. As with those project, CetraRuddy will maintain much of the detailing and 1920s decorum found on and inside the building. "This is an incredible landmark of this city and a national treasure, and we are delighted to help bring it new life," said Cetra in a press release. "For Newark, this visionary project brings new vibrancy and economic vitality to Newark’s downtown center, while also preserving its renowned historic character." In 2005, the building's art deco facade and lobby was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rising 20 stories (275 feet) the sandstone and buff brick facade features colonnades and motifs by sculptor Edward McCartan. At night, the facade and upper levels are illuminated to reveal McCartan's detailing.
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Competition Details for NYC’s New Port Authority Bus Terminal

Calling all international architects, designers, urban planners, and engineers: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) is asking you to create a multi-disciplinary design team to submit designs and deliverables for a new bus terminal on Manhattan's west side near the aging existing terminal on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. The current terminal is the largest in U.S., supporting over 220,000 passenger trips each weekday. PANYNJ is seeking designs that address “an appropriate level of service to meet bus passenger demand, improved functionality for bus parking and staging, minimizing traffic impact on surrounding local streets, and sustaining safety and security.” While the two-phase competition opened earlier this month, the PANYNJ board just approved funds for the project this past week. The projected cost: $10-$15 billion. One alternative to the current Manhattan location was Secaucus, in northern New Jersey. “Scott Rechler, Andrew Cuomo’s top appointee to the Port Authority, had asked the agency to explore putting the new terminal near the Secaucus Junction train station in New Jersey,” reported New York Magazine. Rechler thinks a new larger bus terminal in NYC will worsen Lincoln Tunnel traffic. Those who didn't support his plan say it would require a train transfer for many traveling from New Jersey to downtown Manhattan. “As part of a deal announced Thursday, Rechler will drop his push for a Jersey-based terminal, and in exchange, New Jersey’s top appointee to the authority withdrew his opposition to a $4 billion reconstruction plan for La Guardia Airport’s central terminal.” The first competition phase deadline is April 12, 2016. The second phase will be due sometime late this summer. PANYNJ officials expect to announce a winner this September. The award: $1 million for the winning concept. More details on PANYNJ’s competition page.
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In a race to the top, Perkins Eastman breaks ground on New Jersey’s tallest building

One of Jersey City's selling points is better views of the Manhattan skyline than from Manhattan itself. From the New York shores, its plain to see that Jersey City has amassed an impressive collection of skyscrapers, too. Last week, Perkins Eastman, developer China Overseas America, and city officials officially broke ground on 99 Hudson, a 79 story condominium tower that is set to be New Jersey's tallest building. One block from the Hudson River and sited on what's now a parking lot, the 800-unit building will rise 900 feet from sea level, according to a statement from Perkins Eastman. That's 119 feet taller than the Goldman Sachs building, now the state's tallest building, three blocks away. Renderings depict a complex that occupies the full block. An eight story base with a roof garden sits to the west of the main tower, which has multiple stepped exposures to maximize water views. The development will add 7,500 square feet of public plazas and green space, as well as create ground-floor retail along three sides of its block. The project is the first large-scale condo development in more than five years, though Jersey City has seen its skyline rise dramatically over the past decade. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop's tenure is marked by aggressive pursuit of development, including towers like these and possibly this, plus an ambitious affordable housing proposal. Jersey City, consequently, is poised to become the state's largest as early as this year.
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New York City to receive $176 million in federal funding for East Side coastal resiliency project

New York City will receive $176 million in federal funding for disaster recovery. The funding would be put towards a section of the project extending from the northern portion of Battery Park City to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side. The money is part of $181 million in funding for recovery projects in New York and New Jersey. The funds came from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development–sponsored competition to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters, The New York Times reports. The BIG–designed East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (scaled down, but known in former incarnations as the DryLine or the BIG U) calls for sea walls, retractable flood barriers, and grass berms that would double as riverside recreation areas, opening up the waterfront to create a shoreline comparable to the recreation-rich shores of Manhattan's West Side. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project arose from Rebuild by Design, a 2014 competition to solicit ideas for six large-scale flood protection and resiliency measures in the tristate area. Rebuild by Design awarded New York City $335 million in federal funds for the East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street section. Mayor de Blasio has committed $100 million in capital funding to the project already.
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Contrary to popular belief, the sacred “T” in TOD may not be necessary for reduced car dependence

Urban planning credo states that, through design and policy interventions that improve access to public transportation, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) reduces car dependency and encourages individuals to walk, bike, bus, or take the train to their destination. Well, maybe. A University of California, Berkley study suggest that, for rail, the T in TOD may not be necessary to reduce car travel in neighborhoods that are dense and walkable, with scarce parking. fig1 In a study of rail transit's impact on travel patterns, Daniel Chatman, associate professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, challenged the assumption that easy access to rail leads to less reliance on cars (and subsequently lower rates of car ownership). Were there other factors at play, like narrower streets, good parking, wider sidewalks, and nearby destinations? Chatman received over 1,100 responses to a survey he sent to households living within a two-mile radius of ten New Jersey train stations, within commuting distance to Manhattan. Chatman asked residents about what type of house they lived in, on- and off-street parking availability, travel for work and leisure, residential location preferences, and household demographics. 30 percent of respondents lived in housing that was less than seven years old. Half lived within walking distance (0.4 miles) to rail, in TOD-designated and non-designated developments. Controlling for housing type, bus access, amount of parking, and population density, among other markers, the availability of on- and off-street parking, not rail access, was the key determinate in auto ownership and car dependence. The study asserts that "households with fewer than one off-street parking space per adult had 0.16 fewer vehicles per adult. Households with both low on- and off-street parking availability had 0.29 fewer vehicles per adult." Living in a new house near a train station, moreover, was correlated with a 27 percent lower rate of car ownership compared to residents further afield. Bus access was also key in determining car use. The number of bus stops within one mile of a residence is a good indicator of public transit accessibility, and there are usually more bus stops in denser areas. The study found that "doubling the number of bus stops within a mile radius around the average home was associated with 0.08 fewer vehicles per adult." Compared to areas with poor bus access and plentiful parking, car ownership was reduced by 44 percent when strong bus access converged with poor parking availability. To reduce car ownership and use, municipalities don't necessarily have to invest in rail. Reducing the availability of parking, providing better bus service, developing smaller houses (and more rentals), and creating employment centers in walkable, densely populated downtowns may accomplish the same objective, at considerably less expense.
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Jorge Mastropietro Architects brings high design to Jersey City’s Little Free Library

Though the proposed 90 story resort casino with on-site yacht parking will bring many amenities to Jersey City, that development will not include a library. Perhaps in response to this shortcoming, Jersey City is bringing education out of classrooms and into public spaces with a small-scale, semi-permanent library. Architecture and development firm Jorge Mastropietro Architects Atelier (JMA) created for the Jersey City Little Free Library Competition. The New York– and Buenos Aires–based firm created a diminutive, shape-shifting outdoor book kiosk in Hamilton Park. This is one local example of over 32,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide (map). [En]Light is made of semi-transparent acrylic, so that books are visible from the outside but protected from the elements. Its orange aluminum casing unfolds, chrysalis-like, into benches, creating a gathering space around the project. At night, [En]Light lights up, a glowing beacon for bibliophiles (and probably moths, too). In a statement, founding principal Jorge Mastropietro explained the significance of the design: "We've emphasized the importance of the printed word in an age of digital media. To celebrate the public role of a library, it's important to build community interaction—bringing together people and knowledge in an organic way, just as the best libraries do." Little Free Library is a national movement to broaden access to books and foster enjoyment of reading. Founded in 2009, the movement is inspired by the wide-reaching philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie's public libraries, as well as the "take a book, leave a book" systems of local cafes. It's up to leaders in individual communities to establish their own book boxes; organizers can register their library with the Little Free Library website to gain recognition and support. The Little Free Library was honored last month by the Library of Congress (one of the world's largest) for its unconventional approach to building literacy.