Category Archives: New York State

NY-NJ port grapples with rail delays

In a missive to port users outlining the problem, the port said it is working with CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway to clear the rail backlog.

Well! It is about time to admit a problem.

In a recent WebPage, we have been careful not to include the Port of New York & New Jersey in our planning. HERE IS WHY.

A New Hudson Bridge, Revived Beacon Line, HYPERLOOP and More

Advertisements

Cuomo’s Congestion Pricing Plan Actually Isn’t Half-Bad

The Village Voice

The “Fix NYC” plan could actually fix NYC’s traffic and transit woes, go figure

All cars entering lower Manhattan would be charged $11.52 a day under Governor Cuomo’s congestion pricing plan.

It’s been three months since Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed a panel to come up with a congestion pricing plan to, as the panel was named, Fix NYC. That report came out today and it’s…good? I know, I’m just as surprised as you!

Meet the new proposed congestion charge, pretty much the same as the old proposed congestion charge

It would cost $11.52 a day for cars to drive into Manhattan south of 60th Street, otherwise known as the Central Business District (CBD), Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. That was the same proposal Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a decade ago — although the daily charge was then to be split up between $5.76 outbound and inbound charges — as part of the Move NY Plan, and it’s the core of Cuomo’s proposal now. Taxis, for-hire vehicles (more on them momentarily), and buses would be exempted. So, too, would trips along the FDR Drive that exit north of 60th Street — such as, for example, an SUV that drives from Gracie Mansion to Park Slope via FDR Drive and the Brooklyn Bridge every day.

In total, the fees, which would be charged via a combination of E-ZPass and license plate readers, would generate between $810 million and $1.1 billion annually while reducing congestion by 8 to 13 percent. That may not sound like much, but taking one out of every ten cars off the road makes a very big difference in getting traffic moving.

There are some minor differences in Cuomo’s plan, though. For one, the new proposal suggests charging trucks $25.34, or 2.2 times as much as cars, as trucks account for an outsize share of congestion and currently pay, wait for it, 2.2 times higher tolls on city bridges. The plan hopes this will encourage truck drivers to make deliveries during off-peak hours; it also calls for the congestion pricing for trucks to begin in 2020 as a kind of trial phase, before charges for cars follow a few months later.

A focus on for-hire vehicles
One of the biggest differences between the Fix NYC proposal and Mayor Bloomberg’s failed plan a decade ago is the emphasis on for-hire vehicles, since Uber and Lyft didn’t exist in 2008. As the report notes, for-hire vehicles now represent more than half of all vehicles in the CBD on weekday afternoons. To address that, rather than subjecting them to the congestion price, which would do little to disincentivize them since it would be a flat daily rate, it proposes a larger zone — up to 96th Street — for an FHV surcharge of between $2 and $5 per ride, with additional fees for time they’re in the zone without a passenger. In all, the surcharge could raise between $155 million and $605 million annually, depending on which pricing scheme is adopted.

The clever bit is where that money goes. The panel suggests this revenue be used to plug one of the big open questions facing the subway: Who’ll fund the MTA’s $836 million Subway Action Plan to repair and modernize the system? Currently, the state has committed to fund half, but de Blasio has refused to fund the city’s proposed share. The MTA’s only other funding options are to raise fares or borrow, and the MTA has already borrowed enough.

Another clever aspect of the FHV charge is a “significantly reduced” surcharge for pooled trips, such as UberPool and Lyft Line. Not only will this likely help reduce congestion by increasing occupancy rates, it will help get Uber and Lyft on board since pooled rides, if they have multiple people in them, are far more profitable.

A phased approach
Rather than implement everything at once, the report calls for a phased approach, which seems “essential” to making the plan work.

The first phase, beginning this year, would be fairly modest, requiring a full review of the city’s parking placard system — which in effect bestows upon more than 100,000 people, mostly city employees and politicians, a waiver to park wherever they want for free — increased (or any) enforcement of traffic laws such as blocking the box or parking in bus lanes, and changes to various MTA funding structures to more directly provide a guaranteed source of revenue. You know, things that should have been done a long time ago.

The second phase, starting in 2019, would implement the above FHV surcharges. And the third phase, targeted for 2020, would see the congestion pricing introduced, first to trucks as a kind of trial phase, then to cars as well, as soon as the L train comes back into service.

While this timeline sounds fine, it would require the MTA to get cracking on the congestion charge technology before the legislature is likely to approve it. Two years of lead time seems awfully tight. For example, it took London two years to implement its congestion charge even though the mayor had unilateral authority to order it.

This is about much more than congestion pricing
As the name of the panel suggests, this report is a wide-ranging review of how to make transportation in New York City better and how to fund it. For example, the panel calls for the existing Payroll Mobility Tax, introduced in 2009, to be dedicated to the MTA without needing annual state legislative approval. It also supports Cuomo’s proposal to allow the MTA to collect real estate taxes from development that benefits from mass transit expansion, such as the Second Avenue Subway. Then there are the placard, bus, and traffic enforcement proposals mentioned above. This is, fundamentally, a plan to make getting around New York City bearable.

Is the range of options a feature or a bug?

As Cuomo promised, the proposal is a slate of recommendations rather than one take-it-or-leave-it plan. The report outlines several possible charging schemes for pretty much every one of its ideas. And nothing says the whole plan has to be adopted; it’s easy to envision, for example, the placard review somehow getting lost in the shuffle. Maybe we just end up with an FHV surcharge and a bitter fight with Uber and Lyft.

Or, perhaps the flexibility allows for political horse-trading in Albany in order for the plan to pass. It’s still too early to say, but at the very least, it’s a plan every New Yorker — even the ones who drive and will therefore enjoy less traffic — should get excited about.

HELP! “Virgin Hyperloop One”, NY City Needs A HYPERLOOP

Special Guest Editorial by KEN KINLOCK

Yes, NY CITY needs a HYPERLOOP to reach Stewart International Airport. Not a long Hyperloop: only 6O+ miles.

Stewart International Airport is outside the City on the West bank of the Hudson River. It is the “4th New York City Airport”. In the Winter it is less likely to shut for snow or ice.


It has absolutely the longest runways in town…as seen by an A380 landing in a snow storm recently.

But once a plane lands, what do you do with the passengers? Send them to downtown New York on a Short Line bus? Get them across the river and load them on a Metro-North train in Beacon? Send them through New Jersey Transit rail? The “correct” answer is build a HYPERLOOP right to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. They can go anywhere in the City from there.

So what do I know about Hyperloop? I helped design one in 2016 for Hyperloop One between Louisville, Kentucky and Gary, Indiana (then to Chicago on the South Shore Railroad).

What do I know about building airports? Nothing! So I turned to industry experts and read what they wrote.

Max Hirsh (PhD, Harvard) is a professor at the University of Hong Kong and a leading expert on airports, migration, and transport infrastructure. He is the author of Airport Urbanism: an unprecedented study of air travel and global migration patterns that incorporates the perspective of passengers, airport designers, and aviation executives.

Steve Carden
Technology & Innovation Leader, PA Consulting Group. Author of “Hyperloop’s Role In Greening The Transportation Grid”.

The bottom line is you need more than a Diet Coke machine and a little shop that sells tchotchkes.

Cuomo Pushes for NYC Funding for Subway Repairs, Congestion Pricing

The Observer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is renewing pressure on New York City to fund its half of the short-term plan to fix the city’s subway system and has included his long-anticipated congestion pricing proposal in the latest state budget.

At his fiscal year 2019 executive budget address on Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo discussed the subway action plan unveiled by MTA Chairman Joe Lhota in July. Lhota has proposed that the state and the city split the cost of the $836 million short-term plan to fund subway repairs.

The governor said the state will provide $254 million in operating aid to fully fund its half of the cost using $194 million in previously unallocated monetary settlements and the accelerated transfer of Payroll Mobility Tax revenue to the MTA by eliminating the need for the $60 million annual appropriation. The financial plan also includes $175 million in new capital funding for the MTA.

“We’ve said it should be split 50/50 New York State/New York City,” he said. “We have funded it 50 percent. New York City needs to fund it 50 percent. That’s the short-term.”

This week, he plans to present his congestion pricing proposal: the long-awaited report by the “Fix NYC” panel Cuomo convened to advise the state on proposals to create a dedicated funding stream to mass transit and reduce traffic on city streets.

The report will address defining a geographic “pricing zone,” installing technology around the zone and coming up with fees and hours. The report, Cuomo said, suggests flexible and variable options and prices for different hours and for yellow cars, black cars, green cars, Uber, Lyft, trucks and passenger cars.

“My point is it has to be fair to all people in all industries,” Cuomo continued. “You have yellow cars, now black cars, green cars, blue cars, purple cars—they all have to be treated the same. I don’t want anyone saying they had a competitive advantage or this advantage because we put a surcharge on one versus the other.”

He noted the state currently collects and doles out the Payroll Mobility Tax to the MTA. The executive budget proposes changing the state law so the revenue is directly appropriated to the agency.

“For the MTA, currently the state collects what’s called a Payroll Mobility Tax, which is $1.6 billion,” the governor added. “We would change the law so the MTA collects that tax itself, it now has a dedicated funding stream, it can securitize it, it can get a better credit rating from it, it can finance the installation of the Fix New York City Technology, the Penn renovation, etc.”

De Blasio, for his part, told NY1’s Errol Louis he agreed with Cuomo’s approach to handling President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan signed into law before Christmas—an approach that includes suing the Trump administration. But he expressed disagreement with Cuomo’s approach to dealing with the MTA.

“I disagree on its face with some of the assumptions in his budget address when it comes to the MTA,” he said. “The state of New York took $456 million of the MTA’s budget. They need to put that money back.”

And he maintained his proposed millionaires tax on wealthy New Yorkers to fund subway repairs and reduced subway fares for low-income New Yorkers is the best way to solve the long-term issues afflicting the city’s subway system.

He maintained that well-off people, including in states like New York, will do better because of Trump’s tax plan and that others may “do less well.” But he argued that even if millionaires and billionaires do “about the same or a little worse,” they still pay “so much less than they should” in terms of their share of taxes.

“Remember when [there] was the high water mark of taxing millionaires and billionaires in this country?” de Blasio continued. “During the Dwight Eisenhower administration. And by the way, that was one of the times when the economy was inclusive and functional. So any way you slice it, the millionaires and billionaires of this state can afford to pay more. It’s the best and most reliable way to fund the MTA going forward.”

As to the news of Cuomo inching closer to unveiling his congestion pricing proposal and what impact it has on his own plan to tackle congestion in the city, de Blasio said he is “beginning to see something” and wants to analyze the plan once it is fully presented.

“What I’ve said is look, ‘I’ll look at any plan and certainly one to reduce congestion in the city, but I wanna make sure it’s fair,’” he added. “Some of the proposals we’ve seen in the past, I think, were not fair, were not balanced in terms of the economic impact they’d have on different people, and particularly on people from Brooklyn and Queens. I’ll look at anything.”

He insisted it does not threaten the validity of his millionaires tax proposal because the city will need a “substantial amount of reliable resources to fix the MTA.”

“I think the ways we address congestion take many forms, including some of the things that we’re talking about,” the mayor said. “For example, banning truck deliveries in certain routes during rush hour so you don’t have a ton of doubled parked trucks right where people are trying to go at the most sensitive time of the day. So we’re going to look at different pieces of what the governor’s put forward, but we’re going to keep working to reduce congestion with our own tools as well.”

Extension of #1 Line ‘Wishful Thinking’

Tribeca Trib

The extension of the NYC Transit #1 subway line from the Rector Street station to Red Hook for $3.5 billion (a tunnel and three new stations) as proposed in 2016 by Senior VP of AECOM Engineering firm Chris Ward and now supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2018 State of the State speech is wishful thinking.

This subway extension would support a proposed Red Hook economic development project. It would be similar in size and scope to Battery City Park in Manhattan. Was this $3.5 billion figure written on the back of a napkin?

Cuomo wants the MTA to conduct and pay for a planning feasibility study. There would still be the need for environmental documents or preliminary design and engineering followed by final design and engineering efforts and identification of billions for construction funding.

All of the above is necessary to validate any basic estimates for construction costs.

Given the narrow streets and dense development, who could find a staging area for mobilization of contractor employees, equipment and materials to support construction? Imagine trying to assemble a tunnel boring machine at Rector Street adjacent to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. What about removal of debris once excavation begins? Hundreds of trucks needed on a daily basis to remove rock and soil would be challenging.

It cost $4.5 billion for Phase 1 Second Avenue subway (36 blocks & 3 stations) & $2.4 billion (18 blocks & 1 station) for #7 Hudson Yards subway extension. Neither required a multi-billion tunnel under the East River. Construction of new subway stations average between $500 million up to $1 billion, depending upon location and complexity of work. All three new subway stations would require compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). This includes expensive elevators and other features.

Is there a political quid pro quo in the form of campaign donations between developers, construction contractors and unions who support this project and Cuomo?

World’s biggest passenger jet forced to land at SWF New York airport because of blizzard

Source CNBC

A massive winter storm forced an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, to divert to SWF, a small New York airport around 1 p.m. ET on Thursday after heavy winds and whiteout conditions closed runways at its intended destination: John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The 325 passengers aboard Singapore Airlines Flight 26 from Frankfurt, Germany, found themselves on a snowy runway for more than three hours at humble Stewart International, about 80 miles north of JFK.

Passengers were leaving the plane after 5 p.m. ET using outdoor stairs, according to Manoel Gerlach, a passenger aboard the plane who was traveling with his wife and toddler son.

The sight of the giant plane, whose 262-foot wingspan is more than double that of a Boeing 737, was unusual for the airport, which is dwarfed by JFK in terms of passenger traffic. In 2016, about 137,000 passengers boarded at Stewart. At JFK, some 29 million passengers boarded, according to the Department of Transportation.

The airport’s 11,800 foot runway can easily accommodate the large plane, and the airport even bills itself as an “efficient diversion airport” because the runway is so long. But the airport’s gates aren’t high enough to reach the plane’s doors. Stairs were brought to the aircraft and passengers exited the plane into the outdoors, Gerlach said.

Singapore Airlines was working to arrange ground transportation to New York for the passengers, a spokesman said.


Diversion Map courtesy Flight Aware
A map showing flight diversions over the north east due to Winter Storm Grayson.

The flight was one of dozens that were diverted as powerful winds and heavy snow closed runways at some of the busiest airports along the East Coast, including several international long-haul flights.

Plane-tracking site FlightAware said there were at least 96 diversions due to the storm. More than 3,600 flights were canceled, and airlines have canceled hundreds more on Friday.

Then the plane, which is used on some of the longest international routes, will fly a very short route: from Stewart to JFK, according The spokesman for Singapore Airlines said it wasn’t clear how long that would take, but business-jet operators estimate the flight time on a small jet at about 30 minutes. The plane is expected to then fly back to Frankfurt.

Stewart’s history stretches back to the 1930s when the U.S. Military Academy at West Point built an airfield there to train cadets. It became Stewart Air Force Base in 1948 and what is now the Stewart Air National Guard Base is next to the commercial airport.

In January 1981, 52 Americans who had been held hostage in Iran returned back to the U.S., landing at Stewart aboard an Air Force VC-137, a variation of a Boeing 707 jet.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has operated the airport for just over a decade, and is trying to attract more airlines to Stewart.

Trump Administration Kills Gateway Tunnel Deal

California Rail News

Feds declare agreement to share massive project’s costs with NY and NJ “nonexistent”

President Donald Trump dropped his own New Year’s ball—in the form of a wrecking ball—with a late Friday afternoon announcement that effectively wipes out plans for perhaps the nation’s most crucial infrastructure project.

The president officially scrapped his predecessor’s proposal to have the federal government underwrite half the cost of a multibillion-dollar Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station, the busiest transit hub in the U.S. The lone existing tunnel is rapidly deteriorating, threatening to sever Amtrak’s popular Northeast Corridor route and to divert tens of thousands of New Jerseyans from their daily Manhattan commutes via NJ Transit.

The administration released the news on the cusp of a holiday weekend in a letter from a top Federal Transit Administration official to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his New Jersey counterpart Chris Christie, who had agreed with the Obama administration to split the project’s costs 50-50.

President Barack Obama’s Department of Transportation, which encompasses the FTA, had consented to that framework with Christie, Cuomo, now-Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker in 2015.

Friday’s letter, in response to an updated proposal by the two states to fund their half of the plan with federal loans, declared the deal null and void.

“Your letter also references a nonexistent ’50-50′ agreement between USDOT, New York and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” wrote FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. “We consider it unhelpful to reference a nonexistent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders.”

When Crain’s inquired if that meant DOT regards the 2015 plan as not having standing, a spokesperson replied, simply, “correct.”

The news left advocates for Gateway apoplectic.

“Let’s not be surprised by the timing of this letter,” said Tom Wright, president of the Regional Plan Association. “Today is the last day to slip this in with no one noticing. The Trump administration is content to kick the can down the road on Gateway.”

The letter marks the latest blow to the project, which includes the new tube under the Hudson River, repairs to the atrophied existing dual-tunnel conduit and the reconstruction of New Jersey’s troubled Portal Bridge. The Trump administration undermined the endeavor earlier this month by mocking the New York–New Jersey proposal to have the Gateway Development Corp. borrow money through the federal Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program, even though the states would repay the loan.

Williams’ letter Friday echoed USDOT’s earlier assertion that this proposal has Washington funding the majority of the project—a declaration that stunned many observers, who noted that states frequently finance major infrastructure undertakings by borrowing money from the federal government.

Sources have previously suggested to Crain’s that the president’s handling of the project has political overtones, as its greatest champion has been Schumer, the most powerful Democrat in Washington.

Trump has repeatedly hyped an infrastructure plan that he has promised to release in the New Year. Such a plan would require a large number of votes from Schumer’s conference in order to pass the Senate. Folding Gateway into a Trump infrastructure bill would pressure Schumer to deliver those votes. Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary, is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, which could increase the White House’s leverage.

“The best-case scenario now is that discreet pieces of the project move forward individually, like the remaining portion of the tunnel box under the Hudson Yards and the new Portal Bridge,” Wright said. “And meanwhile, commuting under the Hudson River will continue to become more difficult and that will increase the pressure on Congress to act.”

A spokesman for the multi-agency development corporation formed to execute the project downplayed Friday’s letter.

“There is no more urgent infrastructure project than Gateway, and posturing aside, we are confident that the Trump administration will engage with us as the president turns to infrastructure in 2018,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Although the Trump administration has taken to calling Gateway a “local” project, it is considered integral to the future of a regional economy that provides a hefty chunk of the nation’s gross domestic product and sends hundreds of billions of tax dollars to Washington each year.

New York business leaders have emphasized the project’s importance, but the dismissive federal response has underscored just how little sway they have with the Trump administration.

Ironically, the area of strongest agreement between Democrats and Trump has been the need for infrastructure improvements, and the president has touted a forthcoming $1 trillion plan. However, he is counting on nonfederal sources including private investors to contribute 80% of the money. That is likely to be a source of tension with Democrats.

Public-private partnerships have built transportation projects around the world but not on a large scale in the U.S. They typically rely on user fees to repay investors.

An earlier effort to build a second train tunnel under the Hudson River, known as the ARC project, was terminated in 2010 by Christie, who now finds himself on the receiving end of such a rejection. Federal funds set aside for ARC were then redirected to projects in other states.

Update:

On Saturday a senior administration official told Crain’s that the Department of Transportation regards the framework deal between the Obama administration and the states as a nonbinding, politically motivated public relations maneuver by then–Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The official asserted that the federal government had no right to announce its commitment to any financing plan because the states had not submitted a formal application for funding. The official said the department recognizes the project’s importance and is open to an arrangement for underwriting it that does not count a federal loan repaid by the states toward the local contribution.

The official also highlighted such multibillion-dollar projects now underway as the Honolulu Light Rail and the Maryland Purple Line, for which federal loans made up only a small proportion of the capital investment.

Those projects, however, do not serve regions as integral to the U.S. economy as the Hudson River tunnel. Nor do they serve more than one state. And the $9.5 billion Honolulu undertaking, which as of August had received $800 million of a $1.5 billion federal funding package, has run into serious problems including a nearly $3 billion deficit. Experts question the benefit it would have for Honolulu, let alone the nation, should Hawaii manage to finish it.

Maryland’s $2.4 billion Purple Line, for which a $900 million federal grant was approved, is a state project and much smaller than Gateway, which could end up costing 10 times as much. The Maryland project also received an $875 million federal loan.

A New Year’s challenge for New York’s governor

NY Post Com

For many folks, New Year’s marks a beginning. For Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it poses a test: If he hopes to run for president in 2020 (he does), he needs to bolster his record in New York starting this year and handily win re-election in November.

A recent NY1-Baruch College poll suggests his re-election chances are good: 50 percent of New Yorkers give Cuomo a thumbs-up on job performance, with only 25 percent disapproving. Likewise, 49 percent say he deserves to be re-elected, while just 28 percent say no. The $26 million pile of campaign cash he’s sitting on will also help — though Republicans are lining up to run against him.

Yet Cuomo’s job-approval number is down from 58 percent in the poll’s October survey — and could head anywhere over the next 10 months. As for his dreams of a presidential run, New Yorkers oppose it by 45 percent to 36 percent, the poll showed.

Cuomo’s biggest national problem? His record. What can he run on?

Sure, some progressives may give him points for pushing through gay marriage, a gun control bill, the $15 minimum wage, free college tuition and a rash of environmental moves. But none of that will sell outside blue states.

At the same time, he’s not radical enough to win over Bernie Bros and Elizabeth Warren Democrats. When he ran for re-election in 2014, Zephyr Teachout — a complete unknown — outflanked him on the left and drew 34 percent in the primary.

More important, rivals in any presidential race will ask: How did New York fare under Cuomo’s leadership? And that’s where his troubles begin.

Cuomo can point to some big infrastructure projects, like a new Tappan Zee Bridge and the Second Avenue subway. But New Yorkers will be paying for them for decades through taxes, tolls and fees.

Critics will also argue these projects came at the expense of more desperately needed work, such as repairs and upgrades to existing mass-transit infrastructure — subways, buses, commuter rail lines.

Cuomo will forever be known as the governor who allowed what he himself called a commuter Summer of Hell in 2017. Even as 2018 kicks off and the weather dips into single digits, that “summer” is dragging on, with the plan for needed subway fixes still short hundreds of millions of dollars.

If Cuomo can’t make the trains run on time here, how can he run America?

Meanwhile, in the schools, particularly those in the city, the majority of kids graduate unprepared for college or jobs, even though per-student spending is among the highest in the nation.

And though Cuomo has lent support to the one kind of public school that works — charters — it hasn’t been enough to make a big difference overall.

New York’s pathetic statewide economy will be another sore point. In May, the Commerce Department ranked it 13th from the bottom in growth among states in 2016. For the second quarter of 2017, state GDP clocked in at just 1.2 percent, less than half the nation’s 3.1 percent rate.

Indeed, in every year since Cuomo took office, New York’s economy has lagged the nation. Despite a vibrant Gotham. Despite the billions Cuomo has poured into areas like Buffalo and on favored companies.

And the toll has been absolutely horrific upstate — where, Federal Reserve analysts note, job creation was “sluggish” since 2010 before coming to a near-total halt in early 2016.

Still, Cuomo’s “economic development” programs have produced one thing: corruption scandals.

This month, his former top aide, Joe Percoco — whom he describes as a brother — goes on trial for taking bribes from companies doing business with the state.

Later in the year, other associates will face trial on corruption charges linked to his economic development program. And on top of all that, the FBI is now probing his staffing practices.

Then there’s the budget: Cuomo is staring at a $4 billion hole — even as election pressures will make it hard to rein in spending and cut back on state aid for things like schools, hospitals and transit.

Meanwhile, New York’s taxes remain sky-high, and Cuomo will be taking a huge political risk if he calls for hikes — especially if he wants to take on President Trump, who just presided over a massive national tax cut.

Cuomo, of course, hasn’t announced any plans for a 2020 White House run, but he’s lately been boosting his national profile through increased media appearances and by attacking Trump loudly and often (if not always by name). And the agenda he’ll unveil Wednesday in his State of the State Address, including a rewrite of the state tax code, will surely be as much about his national prospects as his re-election.

Yet to be a viable contender in 2020, he’ll need to show results: A strong state economy. Marked improvement in the schools. A bearable tax and business climate. Trains that run.

It’s a tall order. Happy New Year, Gov.

Walkway Over The Hudson Awarded $500,000 for Visitors Center

SouthwestDutchess

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — the Walkway Over The Hudson is getting a new visitors center.

The Walkway was awarded a $500,000 grant through New York State’s Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) program this week, to be allocated toward the planned Eastern Entrance Welcome Center.

The welcome center is expected to be completed by spring 2019 and will feature permanent restrooms, a gathering area for up to 40 visitors, water fountains, benches, lighting, landscaping and other amenities. The welcoming center will cost approximately $3 million and be located adjacent to the park’s east side parking lot and at the juncture between the Walkway State Park and the Dutchess County Rail Trail.

“The Dutchess Welcome Center is another great and much-needed enhancement to Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park,” said Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart.

Whenever I hear about the WALKWAY, I think of old friend, the late Bernie Rudberg from Hopewell Junction. Know a lot of others promoted the Walkway, but Bernie was a great promoter.

NY Central’s Grade Separation and New Station at Herkimer, NY

Featured image: New station completed in 1943

(This article is based on a similar article published in 2015 in the “CENTRAL HEADLIGHT” of the New York Central System Historical Society. It was written by the Late Douglas McIntyre Preston.)

It took over forty years of contemplation, frustration, and at last construction before the village of Herkimer, New York finally obtained a new passenger station. The New York Central’s project was to relocate its four-track main line in Herkimer, and thus eliminate seven dangerous crossings in the middle of this village and provide a modern passenger station. Planning and discussions among the railroad, the village, and regulators had dragged on for decades.

Replaced this station

Herkimer had always been on the New York Central. The Herkimer, Newport & Poland Narrow Gauge Railroad headed north of the village beginning in 1882. In 1891, Dr. William Stewart Webb acquired it, standard-gauged it, and it became the Mohawk & Malone (M&M) through the Adirondack Mountains.

Across the Mohawk River from Herkimer, the New York, West Shore & Buffalo established its main shops in Frankfort. Later when NY Central took over, the shops became home to Union Fork & Hoe. The massive brick shops were demolished a couple of years ago after a huge fire gutted the abandoned complex.

And yes there was a trolley connection too.

The NY Central-controlled Utica & Mohawk Valley interurban linked Herkimer to Little Falls on the East, and Utica and Rome on the West. Concrete arches still span West Canada Creek. One could also go from Herkimer South to Cooperstown and Oneonta on the Southern New York Railway. By 1907 one could go to Syracuse on the Oneida Railway “Third Rail” over the West Shore from Utica.

By the early Twentieth Century, the Central’s four-trackmain divided Herkimer into two distinct “sides”. Manufacturing plants, smaller homes, Italian and Polish immigrant neighborhoods, and Roman Catholic churches predominated on the “South Side” between the railroad and the Mohawk River. Interurban tracks ran through the same side, and the trolley station lay immediately south of the Centrals passenger station, itself south of the Water Level Route.

Other factories stood on the “North Side” along with the sizeable brick New York Central freight house and the small M&M roundhouse and yard. But north of the tracks one also found the village and county government buildings along with most of Herkimer’s retail stores, fire department, high school, hospital, Masonic temple, historical society, park,protestant churches, and synagogue. Herkimer’s newer and larger homes were also located north of the tracks.

As a much smaller community only about fifteen miles east of Utica, with its large Union Station, Herkimer saw multiple sections of the “Great Steel Fleet” thunder through town at seventy miles per hour. Few trains stopped in Herkimer, so there were 100-car freights around the clock also. Safety was an issue also. From 1904 until 1939, the local newspaper tracked “over 30 killed”. This did not count any from 1836 (arrival of the Utica & Schenectady Railroad arrival) until 1904. The same newspaper published a story in 1939 “LOCAL FIREMEN GLAD CROSSING HAZARD TO GO”. Herkimer firemen have come to look upon the grade crossings as barriers which at any time may be clamped down in front of their screeching trucks when seconds in time saved would mean the savings in life and property. The fire insurance rating board threatened to raise rates in Herkimer unless they put another fire station south of the tracks.

The project plans for the grade crossing elimination project and new station were approved February 4, 1941; but it was not until April 5, 1943 that the relocated passenger tracks and new station were opened. Freight tracks 3 and 4 opened about a week later. Passenger service lasted only until 1962. The station still stands but used by a local business. Tracks 1 and 2 now carry four Amtrak trains each way, none of which stop in Herkimer; plus up to sixty CSX freights. Brush grows where tracks 3 and 4 once ran.