Category Archives: New York State

Mineville Is Getting Back On The Map NOW

MINEVILLE, N.Y. Some look at an abandoned, centuries-old iron mine in New York’s Adirondacks and see a relic. But, an ambitious group of engineers sees the shafts in Mineville as a new way to provide a steady flow of electricity in a growing market for renewable energy. They are pitching a plan to circulate some of the millions of gallons of groundwater that have flooded the mine shafts over the years to power an array of 100 hydroelectric turbines a half-mile underground.

They envision the operation as a solution for solar and wind power producers, who need ways to ensure an uninterrupted flow of energy when the sun isn’t shining and winds are still. While logistically complex, the plan is at the same time incredibly simple: Engineers would drain roughly half of the water from the shafts and pump the remainder into an upper chamber. The water would then be released into a lower chamber, powering turbines and creating electricity. The turbines would be reversed to pump the water back up to repeat the process. Technically, the pumped water is considered stored energy, to be released strategically when power is needed.

For the locals, the pumped storage project would breathe new life into a depressed former mining town, doubling the local tax base, generating hundreds of construction jobs and a dozen permanent ones, and providing extras like a new highway garage and water lines, said Tom Scozzafava, supervisor of the surrounding town of Moriah. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030.

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So what and where is (was) Mineville? Well, I turned to the NEB&W Railroad.
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The NEB&W Railroad is an “HO” scale railroad associated with R.P.I, a noted engineering school located in Troy, New York. The NEB&W still serves Mineville and Troy (where much of the products of the mine went).

Products went from the mine”minevillemine” to repunlicsteelfromtroymenandsbridgeRepublic Steel in Troy

2nd Avenue Subway Moving Right Along!!

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing the end-of-the-year deadline set by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hard in recent days, saying it’s become about more than the long-delayed Second Avenue subway — it’s about the faith people have in government.
“Nobody believes it’s going to be done on time, nobody,” the Democratic governor said in a radio interview this week. But, he added, “if we can get it done on time. … if we can open that thing up at the beginning of the year, maybe people will start to say once again, “Wow. Maybe we can do something.”

The Second Avenue subway, seen as crucial to alleviating traffic on one of the world’s busiest transit systems, has been star-crossed since it was first envisioned by the city’s transportation board in 1929. Those plans were derailed by the stock market crash a few months later.

It wasn’t until 1972 that ground was finally broken on the project. But again, a financial crisis in the nation’s most populous city in the 1970s put to a halt to work. In the 1990s, two powerful U.S. senators from New York were able to secure vital federal funds. But then there were years of bureaucratic hurdles: zoning changes, environmental studies and pre-construction work to clear the city’s underground of pipes and cables.

In 2007, the major tunneling work began on the $4.4 billion project that’s now set to open: a four-station, nearly 2-mile expansion of an existing subway line from Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street to 96th Street, with stops at 72nd and 86th streets in between. .
It was supposed to be completed in 2013.

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Second Avenue Subway Will Roll January First; Where Will Gov. Cuomo Shoot At Next?

Governor Cuomo was throwing his weight around. Put another way: There better not be any screwups under his watch because a new age of public construction had dawned in New York State. Over the past year and a half, Cuomo said he had “taken a personal hands-on approach, and that’s the only way you get things built.”

First proposed during the Roaring 20s, the Second Avenue line was meant to be a muscular addition to the system’s capacity, bustling with passenger activity and energy from Hanover Square to East Harlem or beyond.That was the plan. Then the 20th century happened.Plans were shelved during the Great Depression and World War II. Federal funds were allocated in the 1970s, but the city’s fiscal crisis put the project on hold again.After nearly 100 years of stops and starts and delays, we’re left not with a bold new line running the length of the world’s busiest island, but a $4.5 billion extension of the Q line three stops to 96th.

Earlier this year, the MTA dedicated funds for the second phase of the line up to 125th.

There are other megaprojects for NYC to turn its attention to as well — starting with the $10 billion East Side Access project which includes nearly two miles of new tunneling to bring the LIRR to Grand Central Station, reshaping travel to and from LI.

Robert Moses: Biggest “Bad Guy” In Blocking The Second Avenue Subway

We have been following the century-old battle over the Second Avenue Subway for a loooong time. So why did it not get done sooner? Biggest obstacle was Robert Moses.

An in-depth look at this man can be found in a book called “The Power Broker” by Robert A. Caro. Robert Moses (sometimes referred to as “RM”) was born in 1888. His parents were well-to-do merchants. Although he was born in New Haven, his family was from New York City and moved back when he was a youngster. Moses graduated from Yale in 1909.

An example of his arrogance involved the swimming team. A consistent benefactor of this team was Ogden Mills Reid. As a matter of fact, he paid almost all of the expenses of this team as Yale was then concentrating its funding on such projects as the Yale Bowl. Moses had organized a “minor sports association” in which each minor sport at Yale would share equally in donations. Moses approached Reid and got a contribution but didn’t tell him it was for all minor sports and not just swimming. When challenged by the team captain for deliberately misleading Reid, Moses offered his resignation the first of many times in his life. This time it was accepted. Other times it was refused by many mayors and governors. The next time his resignation was accepted was by Nelson Rockefeller almost sixty years later!

It can be argued that Robert Moses shaped New York in its present form. He built every major highway except the East River Drive, all seven bridges completed since 1931, Shea Stadium, Lincoln Center and the now-empty New York Coliseum. In addition, he cleared the obstacles to acquiring the United Nations land and built huge numbers of public and private housing units (Coop City for example). But he didn’t do much for mass transit and consistantly blocked the Second Avenue Subway.

Between 1924 and 1968 he held immense power. The base for this power was a public corporation named the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. In addition, he held several other titles such as New York Power Authority Chairman; New York State Parks Commission Chairman; New York City Construction Coordinator; New York City Planning Commission Chairman.

He controlled his empire from an unobtrusive building on Randall’s Island below the Triborough toll plaza. As a matter of fact, his authority administered all of Randall’s Island. The TBTA had its own flag; fleet of cars, trucks and boats; and private army of “Bridge and Tunnel Officers”. It had its own source of revenue in the coins dropped into toll booths.

Moses had a secret veto on all public works projects in New York City and had more power than the mayor. He kept secret files which he used to discredit his opponents.

He was the long-time New York City Parks Commissioner. When he took the job there were 119 playgrounds in the city. When he left there were 777. Outside of the city, he built power dams at Massena and Niagara Falls as well as many parks and parkways on Long Island. Since he built both Jones Beach and all roads leading to it, that explains why there is no mass transit to it.

In the 1930’s the Regional Plan Association proposed improved mass transit. Robert Moses didn’t listen to them; instead he built 100 miles of new parkways which filled up as soon as they were opened. RM was responsible for the West Side Improvements and wanted “the great highway that went uptown along the water”. He completed a long-stalled 5-mile elevated expressway from the southern tip of Manhattan to 72nd Street. He also built 6 1/2 miles north to the tip of the island. He then built a park on the river and the Henry Hudson Bridge.

The West Side project involved moving the New York Central Railroad. Details of this were set up in a 1927 agreement between the railroad and the city. The 30th Street and 72nd Street yards were built to replace track further downtown. Before 1929, the city had spent $25 million and the railroad $84 million. The Depression had halted all work but RM found money for the railroad by tapping the state grade crossing elimination fund.

The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge which was built in 1936 made no provision for mass transit. Earlier bridges in New York (not built by Moses) had subway lines as well as roads. Some of these are the Brooklyn, Queensboro, Manhattan and Williamsburg. Many of the parkways he built were designed with bridges too low to accommodate buses. This was very intentional as Moses wanted to make them for cars-only and to exclude trucks.

Between 1930 and 1950, rail commuters declined while highway commuters into New York increased. Every trainload of commuters shifting to automobiles required parking space about equal to the effective parking capacity of one side of Fifth Avenue from Washington Square to Sixty-eighth Street (3 miles).

The Van Wyck Expressway was built where 13 tracks of the Long Island Railroad cross Atlantic Avenue in Jamaica. While construction was underway, 1100 daily train movements (one of the busiest in the world) were maintained. One can’t help but wonder why a rail line from this point couldn’t have easily followed the parkway to Kennedy Airport. Cost to construct when the road was being built would have been reasonable – today it would be prohibitive.

There was an attempt in 1955 to use Triborough and Port Authority funds to modernize the Long Island Railroad, build a subway loop to New Jersey, build a new Queens subway and build the famous but still-born 2nd Avenue Subway. At central locations in Queens and Nassau Counties, multilevel parking garages could have been built atop commuter rail stops. There could have been a new East Side Long Island RR terminal and even a new rapid transit line along the median strip of the Long Island Expressway. The New Jersey tunnel loop would have not only given access to Manhattan where commuters really wanted to go from the Battery to Fifty-ninth Street. It would have prevented the current mess on New Jersey highways, trans-Hudson vehicular tunnels, the West Side Highway and Manhattan streets. The Nostrand Avenue Subway in Brooklyn could have been extended and the even-today bottleneck in train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan at DeKalb Avenue eliminated.

RM’s proposed highways were designed to help automobile-owning families. In 1945 two out of three residents of the city did not own automobiles. Subway fare increases hurt these people. While highways were being extended into areas of the city where they might or might not be needed, subways were not being extended to where they were vitally needed. His monopolization of public funds for highways made subway construction impossible. Even for car-owning families, no subway meant the hardship of having to drive into Manhattan – and park – and pay bridge tolls. It is also said that Moses’ transportation policies helped the poor stay trapped in their slums (“ghettoization”).

In the 1950’s, millions were spent on highways in New York City but only a fraction of that on mass transit. In 1974, New Yorkers were still riding on tracks laid between 1904 and 1933 – before Moses had come to power. Not another mile was built under Moses. Since shortly after World War I, the city had been promising to build a Second Avenue Subway to serve the East Side. Plans have sat in city engineer’s desks since 1929. The city repeated its promise when the Second Avenue El was torn down and again in 1955 when the Third Avenue El went. A Second Avenue Subway coupled to a dedicated East River tunnel could have been extended to Queens to provide subway lines to residents who were miles from the nearest station. The result was, and is, an overcrowded Lexington Avenue IRT line. Subway cars were not replaced (at one point, much of the fleet was a half century old) and a policy of “deferred maintenance” began to take its toll. Fortunately, the subway system had been well engineered and previously well maintained – but eventually it deteriorated.

The last great project Robert Moses was involved in was the 1964 World’s Fair. It was a financial disaster and, again, no gains for mass transit. In the meantime, the Long Island Expressway was built without provision for rapid transit. As each section opened, it was jammed to capacity (“The world’s largest parking lot”). For an extra 4 percent of the cost, it would have been possible to acquire the land to build a rail line.

New York City Mayor Lindsey and many others tried to throttle Moses, but only Nelson Rockefeller was successful. “Rocky” was one of the most dynamic and forceful governors New York ever had. Moses had always used financial protection of creditors as a defense against any takeover of “his” Authority. But his principal bondholder trustee was the Chase Manhattan Bank. Chase Manhattan was the only major bank still controlled by one family – the Governor’s! Rockefeller brought all the region’s transportation elements together under William Ronan and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

When “RM” came to power, New York City’s mass transit system was the best in the world. When he left, it was the worst.

Making the Case Buffalo’s Central Terminal is Right Choice for Amtrak Station

“Every Amtrak train that crosses the state, every single one, regardless of destination, goes right by Central Terminal,” said Mark Lewandowski, director of the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.

Lewandowski says it was built where it was to allow for direct travel to places like New York City, Toronto and Chicago, while no other spot in the city can, and he says Amtrak already owns passenger loading platforms next to the complex.

“The renaissance of Buffalo means nothing unless it can find its way into the forgotten neighborhoods. This is a neighborhood that has been forsaken, but those days are over,” said Rep Brian Higgins, D-26th District.

With $25 million in state funding for the new train station available in 2018, Higgins says he and Sen. Charles Schumer are dedicated to finding matching funds.

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes says for her, it’s an easy decision.

“This should be the hub of transportation in the city of Buffalo. It should be for light rail, it should be for Amtrak and it should also be for bus transportation,” said Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo.

She says infrastructure funding is rarely spent in low-income communities, and being more inclusive with that money is how the new Buffalo should be created.

MTA Metro-North Railroad Looking At Options For “Beacon Line”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and MTA Metro-North Railroad are asking companies and organizations to step forward with ideas for how to revitalize a little-used rail line that runs east-west across Dutchess and Putnam counties.

The line, known as the Beacon Line or the Maybrook Branch, connects with Metro-North’s Hudson Line at Beacon, proceeds east through Fishkill, Hopewell Junction, and Stomville, and connects with the Harlem Line north of Southeast.

Although owned by Metro-North Railroad, the line is not currently used for passenger train service.

Metro-North Railroad’s Beacon Line is a non-revenue line connecting the railroad’s three revenue lines east of the Hudson River. West to east, they are the Hudson Line, Harlem Line, and the Danbury Branch of the New Haven Line. It was purchased by Metro-North in 1995 from Maybrook Properties, a subsidiary of the Housatonic Railroad, to preserve it for future use, training, and equipment moves. Maybrook Properties had purchased the line from Conrail after Conrail withdrew from the Danbury, Connecticut, freight market

“Perhaps there are ways that the line could be put to use for the benefit of the public that are outside of our mandate as a public transportation agency,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. “We want to find out how much interest there is in this real estate and what ideas folks may have that could lead to the revitalization of the line.”

Well now! We have a current project to build a HYPERLOOP between Louisville, KY and Chicago!!!

The MTA has issued a formal Request for Expressions of Interest, or RFEI, which is available at the MTA’s website under Doing Business With Us, then Real Estate, then Leasing/Sales & Current Requests for Proposals.

It was no simple task following the instructs of Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti. First of all we checked the box “foreign company” then found we could not insert our telephone number. Oh well, we used Louisville telephone number. Then we had to make a choice of real estate project. Ours was not listed so we checked “Parking Lot”. Then we went through numerous pages of searching and could not find anything.

If any of our readers are interested in paeticipating with us, please contact us

Delaware and Hudson Railway-Built Caboose on Napier Junction

Since this is the month to display cabooses on WordPress, thought a good time to show off.

Deleware & Hudson could not go all the way from New York State to Montreal. At Rouses Point it legally became the Napier Valley to go into Montréal. Like everything D&H, it was QUALITY. Not sure where it was built; Could have been Colonie or Oneonta.

New York’s Cuomo Tries to Bail Out Dying Nukes

New York’s “liberal” Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to ram through a complex backdoor bailout package worth up to $11 billion to keep at least four dangerously decrepit nuclear reactors operating.

To many proponents of safe energy, the move comes as a shock. Its outcome will have monumental consequences for nuclear power and the future of our energy supply.

For years, Governor Cuomo has made a public show of working to shut down two Entergy-owned reactors at Indian Point, thirty-five miles north of Manhattan. He and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have fought Entergy in court, trying to stop operations. They warn that the reactors are too dangerous to run so close to New York City, which cannot be evacuated in case of a major accident. More than ten million people live within a fifty-mile radius of Indian Point, whose two operating reactors opened in the 1970s.

Entergy is now trying to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the expired operating licenses for the two plants, Indian Point Two and Three. (Indian Point Unit One was shut in October 1974 due to its lack of an Emergency Core Cooling System).

Cuomo claims he still wants to close Indian Point Two and Three. Like most aging reactors, they have been continually plagued with leaks, mechanical failures, structural collapse, and unplanned shutdowns. Recent revelations of major problems with critical bolts within Indian Point’s core structure, and tritium leaks into the broader environment, have deepened public opposition.

The national and local groups fighting to shut Indian Point, some for decades, include Riverkeepers, Clearwater, the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, Beyond Nuclear, Friends of the Earth, and many more.

But now Cuomo wants to earmark more than $7 billion in public money, for starters, to keep four upstate nuclear reactors on line. One is the Ginna reactor, near Rochester; the other three—FitzPatrick, Nine Mile Point One, and Nine Mile Point Two—occupy a single site on Lake Ontario. Fitzpatrick is owned by Entergy. The rest are owned by Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power owner/operator.

All four reactors are in various stages of advanced deterioration and were slated for permanent closure. Without massive public subsidies, none can compete with natural gas or with wind and solar, which are rapidly dropping in price.

Entergy announced last fall that economic factors would force it to shut Fitzpatrick in January 2017. Exelon told the New York Public Service Commission that it would probably shut Nine Mile 1 and Ginna next year as well.

Environmentalists hailed the announcements. The aging U.S. fleet now involves about 100 reactors, down from a maximum of about 130, and 900 fewer than the 1,000 Richard Nixon predicted in 1974. Many of them, like Ginna, are well over forty years old. Many are known to be leaking various radioactive substances, most commonly tritium, as at Indian Point. Major leaks have also recently been revealed at FitzPatrick. Structural problems like Indian Point’s missing bolts and a crumbling shield building at Ohio’s Davis-Besse are rampant.

Nonetheless, in a complex twelve-year package ostensibly meant to promote clean energy, Cuomo’s PSC has passed a huge subsidy plan meant keep the four upstate reactors going

The deal’s arcane terms involve a transfer of Fitzpatrick from Entergy to Exelon. The handouts from the public to the nuclear industry would be spread over more than a decade. Ironically, they could, under certain circumstances, also be used to keep open the two reactors at Indian Point.

Cuomo has made much of “saving” some 2,000 reactor jobs jobs in a depressed region where unemployment is rampant. But Stanford economist Mark Jacobson has shown that the billions spent to keep the reactors open could create tens of thousands of jobs throughout the state if spent on pursuing wind and solar energy and increased efficiency. Those sources could provide New York with far more energy at a much cheaper rate, without the long-term safety, ecological, and public health problems caused by the aging reactors.

Cuomo has also cited former climate expert James Hanson, claiming the prolonged nuke operations will not emit carbon. But the pro-nukers ignore the four reactors’ huge hot water and steam releases.

U.S. reactors each dump some 800 million to 1.25 billion gallons of hot water and steam into the environment every day, a major source of global warming. The estimate for the daily emissions at California’s double-reactor plant at Diablo Canyon is about 2.5 billion gallons of hot water per day. Only about one-third of the energy U.S. reactors produce actually makes it onto the grid in the form of useable electricity. About ten percent of that is then lost in transmission.

Nuke operators throughout the United States are watching to see if New York’s proposed subsidies will keep set a precedent for states to jump in and keep money-losing reactors operating as they crumble. Exelon has lost a fight for billions in Illinois. Environmental, consumer, and even competing utilities are fighting huge bailout demands from FirstEnergy for its Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the industry fought for deregulation, arguing that its reactors would do well in a “free market economy.” But in the process it demanded (and got) about $100 billion in public handouts for “stranded costs” that it argued were unfairly imposed on its massively inefficient technology.

Now that the reactors are failing even after that huge cash infusion, the industry wants another round of huge subsidies

Meanwhile, there are some positive signs. In California, a turning-point deal has been cut at Diablo Canyon with the state, Pacific Gas & Electric, the plant’s unions and major environmental groups to shut the two huge reactors in about nine years, when their licenses expire. In the meantime, the utility will shift almost entirely to carbon-free wind and solar, and will “retain and retrain” the bulk of the plant’s workers.

California’s anti-nuke community worries that the nine years left for Diablo to operate are too much. The two reactors sit on or near a dozen earthquake faults, and are just forty-five miles from the San Andreas, half the distance Fukushima was from the epicenter of the quake that destroyed it.

But the deal marks the first time a nuclear utility has admitted that all the power from its reactors can come instead from renewables. And it’s the first major phase-out plan to allow for a transition for both the plant’s workers and the nearby communities, which will lose a substantial tax base when the reactors close.

With such developments as a backdrop, the New York fight could be a serious turning point in nuke power’s last battle.

The reaction among New York anti-nuke groups to Cuomo’s handout has been fierce. The battle heads back to the PSC in the form of public comment, and then into the courts. Opponents are buoyed by the growing success of the state’s solar industry. As the interests tied to Solartopian technologies expand, their opposition to bailouts like this escalates.

It’s unclear how the battle over nuclear power in New York will be resolved. “The fight,” promises Tim Judson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, “is far from over.”

Harvey Wasserman, The Progressive

Former New York MTA Chair Kiley dies

Robert Kiley, the fifth chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), died Aug. 9 at the age of 80.

Kiley served as MTA chairman from 1983, when he was appointed by then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, to January 1991.

He was a “principle catalyst of the system’s remarkable transportation — from a symbol of urban decay to today’s modern and vital economic engine,” said MTA officials in a press release.

One of Kiley’s most enduring legacies was the removal of graffiti throughout New York City’s subway system. He also was instrumental in advancing MTA New York City Transit’s fare system from tokens to the MetroCard.

Kiley put in place the first and second MTA capital programs, overseeing more than $167 billion worth of investments in the city’s transit network. He focused the investments on the network’s core infrastructure such as trains, buses, track, signals and thousands of components that most riders never see, MTA officials said.

“Bob’s leadership helped the MTA focus on dramatically improving the safety and reliability of the network, led directly to the record ridership levels we see today and was central to the state’s increased growth and prosperity,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast. “He assembled a team and created a vision that brought the transit system back from the brink of disaster and under Gov. Mario M. Cuomo helped rebuild our region’s economy.”

Although his legacy will be the revival of New York City’s subway system, Kiley also revived subway and bus systems in Boston and London.

Kiley’s cause of death was due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease, according to his family, The New York Times reported.

Milk on the New York Central Railroad Harlem Division

This story came from “Emily” who writes about rail history on the whole current Metro-North system.

Milk has long been a staple of the American diet, and since the New York and Harlem Railroad was founded up until the 1950s, it was also a staple commodity carried by rail. Early in New York City’s history, dairy cows were kept and milked in the city proper near distilleries. Often sick cows were kept in cramped conditions, and fed the byproducts of whiskey making – resulting in a blue tinted “milk” that was lacking in cream content and dangerous to drink. Unscrupulous businessmen used additives – including water, sugar, molasses, egg, and even plaster of paris – to give it the appearance of fresh milk and sell it to an unwitting public. This tainted milk led to an increased infant mortality in the city, and was coined the “Swill Milk Scandal” when exposed in the periodicals of the day. The scandal eventually led to regulation of the milk industry, and a push for “pure milk” from dairies far outside the city. Stepping up to transport this milk were, of course, the railroads.

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Rut Milk in the 1950s
The famous “Rut Milk” train passes through Mott Haven in the 1950s. The milk trains were eventually replaced by trucks. Photo by Victor Zollinsky.

Milk depots were established at many train depots, and local farmers could bring and sell their milk, which was then transported to the city. One of the Harlem’s most famous freights was the Rutland Milk train, which brought milk to New York City from Vermont – transferring from the Rutland Railroad to the Harlem in Chatham. Every day a swap would occur where a train full of milk changed hands at Chatham, exchanged for the previous day’s empties.

Read more of this fantastic story.