Category Archives: Railroad Current

Joint US-Mexican rail facility to speed trains at Laredo

(Laredo, Texas) Kansas City Southern (KCS) (NYSE: KSU) president and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer joined officials representing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican Customs (SAT) Thursday in the dedication of a new, joint Unified Cargo Processing facility at the Laredo, Texas railroad
border-crossing.

The objective of this new facility is to share Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) security scanning images; conduct Mexico export processing at the U.S. railhead; streamline the documentation review of northbound trains; and conduct joint inspections, when needed, on inbound shipments.

During the week that U.S., Mexican and Canadian trade representatives begin opening negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. and Mexican customs officials are dedicating this new facility to improving the fluidity and security of this vital, cross-border rail corridor.

“As our governments begin the important work of updating the North American Free Trade Agreement this week, we must all remember the importance of the NAFTA trade relationship to both countries and both economies,” said Mr. Ottensmeyer. “This project, and others to follow, are essential to facilitate the goal of expanding trade and particularly increasing exports of goods such as refined petroleum products and petro-chemicals from the U.S. to Mexico.”

The Laredo/Nuevo Laredo rail crossing is the busiest on the U.S.-Mexico border, processing on average 23 trains in both directions per 24-hour period, and carrying a wide variety of products such automobiles and parts, steel, grain and petroleum products. It is vital to the economic security of both countries. CBP, Mexico Customs, KCS and Union Pacific are committed to continually improving this border-crossing for security, safety and efficiency through government and private sector collaboration. Eliminating stopping trains on the bridge would increase velocity and fluidity of train movements over the border, which is important for all
stakeholders. Keeping trains moving increases security and throughput, while reducing traffic congestion within the city limits of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo.

“This project is a model for how communities, governmental authorities and private enterprises can work together to create outcomes that benefit everyone and strengthen our relationships with our key trading partners and neighbors,” said Mr. Ottensmeyer.

Demand for rail shipments across this busiest international rail gateway in both directions will continue to increase in the future, particularly with growth in U.S. agricultural and future energy exports to Mexico. New and innovative ways to keep this trade moving securely and efficiently over the border will be needed in the future to expand trade between the U.S. and Mexico and make North America even more competitive.

TRA NewsWire

Governor Cuomo Announces Major Construction To Begin On New Grand Moynihan Train Hall

Albany, NY – August 17, 2017 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of major construction of the Moynihan Train Hall, a world-class transportation hub for the 21st century. The Farley Building redevelopment into the Moynihan Train Hall will create a new 255,000-square-foot Train Hall for Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers and increase total concourse floor space in the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex by more than 50 percent. The Farley Building will also house 700,000 square feet of new commercial, retail and dining space within the mixed-use facility and create an iconic civic space for Manhattan’s West Side.

“For decades, passengers were promised a world-class train hall worthy of New York – today, we are delivering on that promise and turning that dream into a reality,” said Governor Cuomo. “We are transforming the Farley Post Office into a state-of-the-art transit hub to get travelers where they need to go faster and more comfortably. With better access to trains and subways, vibrant retail and business opportunities and stunning architectural design, we are bringing Penn Station into the 21st century.”

The Governor also announced the completion of the first significant milestone in the construction of the transformative Penn-Farley Complex announced by the Governor in September 2016, as workers finished demolishing the former sorting room floor slab. This accomplishment – five months ahead of schedule – will enable Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA, the developer-builder team, to begin full construction of the train hall, including the one-acre skylight.

Since September 2016, significant progress has been made to prepare the James A. Farley Post Office building for this dramatic transformation. To date, Skanska has removed more than one acre of concrete and steel flooring to increase the vertical space underneath Moynihan Train Hall’s future skylight. This process entailed the demolition of 6,000 tons of concrete and the removal of approximately 800 tons of steel, as well as an additional 400 tons of hazardous materials. Skanska has also made significant progress in the interior demolition of all five floors of the Farley Building.

The Farley Building was designed by McKim, Mead and White as a sister to their masterpiece – the original Pennsylvania Station. Five decades after the loss of the original structure, the Moynihan Train Hall will once again provide New Yorkers a grand entrance in a McKim, Mead and White architectural marvel. The Farley Building’s train hall will bear the name of one of its great champions – the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The Farley Building’s Moynihan Train Hall will feature a new, spectacular 92-foot high skylight that will rest upon the building’s historic and architecturally-dramatic steel trusses. All LIRR and Amtrak trains will be served by the nine platforms and 17 tracks that will be accessible from the Train Hall, serviced by eleven escalators and seven elevators. The Train Hall will provide a direct connection to the Eighth Avenue Subway and create direct access to the train station from 9th Avenue for the first time, bringing unparalleled regional transportation options within convenient reach of the booming Hudson Yards and Far West Side areas.

In addition to the demolition and removal of existing materials, work has begun on many new features of the Penn-Farley Complex, including:

Restoration of the exterior façade on 31st Street and the interior courtyards;
Creation of new openings to accommodate escalators carrying passengers to platform level;
Shielding three of six underground train platforms for demolition and construction operations; and
Installation of 100 tons of new steel.
The $1.6 billion project is being funded with $550 million from the State, $420 million from Amtrak, the MTA, the Port Authority and a federal grant, and $630 million from the joint venture developers. The new Train Hall is targeted for completion by the end of 2020.

The Moynihan Train Hall is part of the $2.5 billion transformation of the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex announced by Governor Cuomo in January 2016 to dramatically modernize, upgrade and redesign America’s busiest transit hub into a world-class facility for the 21st century. The complex also includes a comprehensive redesign of the LIRR’s existing 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and an extensive renovation to the adjacent Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway stations. The plan will include nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue. Other improvements include upgraded lighting and wayfinding and digital screens to convey information and create a modern passenger experience.

ESD President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “A 21st century transit hub is integral to a strong 21st century economy. Today’s milestone brings us one step closer to a world-class, fully-modernized Penn Station and I commend the Governor for prioritizing and investing in critical infrastructure and moving this project forward.”

Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership in advancing construction on the Moynihan Train Hall. The new Train Hall will provide a modern new concourse for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers, funded in part by a $105 million contribution from Amtrak. Along with Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal and concourse improvements at Penn Station, this is another significant milestone is the effort to create a better customer experience for passengers in New York.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “Today’s announcement is a major step in realizing Senator Moynihan’s bold vision of a grand rail gateway into New York City. I applaud Governor Cuomo, who has worked tirelessly to transform the Farley Federal Post Office Building in Manhattan, and am proud to have helped push for federal funding for this project. I am convinced that Moynihan Station is just the sort of infrastructure improvement and economic development that New York and our nation needs. In addition to generating thousands of good jobs, Moynihan Station will bring our aging infrastructure into the 21st Century and expand our capacity for passengers and make New York-in particular, the West Side of Manhattan-more accessible to commuters and visitors.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “Governor Cuomo has unveiled a bold vision for transforming the Farley Post Office Building into a hub that will do justice to the extraordinary Beaux Arts structure and the urgent transportation needs of New Yorkers. When finished, the Moynihan Train Hall will be a grand destination with shops and restaurants that will attract all New Yorkers and make commuting and travel more pleasant. I am thrilled that New York will once again be served by an iconic terminal whose grandeur and beauty reflects all that is best about our city.”

Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “I commend Governor Cuomo for this mega project as part of his commitment to invest $100 billion in infrastructure projects across New York and for today’s announcement to unveil the modernized renovations of the Moynihan Train Hall. The new Moynihan Train Hall, in its beauty and redesign, will be a critical part of Penn Station’s overhaul, improving New York’s transit infrastructure and helping to connect travelers beyond Manhattan and throughout cities around the world.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “After decades of false starts, it is a testament to splendid architecture of McKim, Mead & White, the enduring legacy of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo that the Farley Post Office will now be transformed into the Moynihan Train Hall. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for jumpstarting this monumental project in my Senate district which will be an enormous benefit for commuters and a significant boost to the city’s economy.”

Senator Marisol Alcantara said, “After decades of stagnation and delay, New Yorkers are finally bearing witness to the revival of the Farley building into a train hall truly worthy of this great city. This state-of-the-art transformation will turn the new Moynihan Train Hall into a world-class gateway to Manhattan – offering locals and tourists alike a truly spectacular look into New York City, whether it is their first time visiting or they are simply commuting to work. I thank Governor Cuomo and my partners in the legislature for getting this long-anticipated project on the fast track for completion because New York City deserves the best and with this project, we will deliver just that.”

Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried said, “We’ve waited a long time while all the players have tried to sort out the Farley/Penn Station project. Governor Cuomo has done a great job putting it together and moving it forward. Transforming the Farley building into a 21st century transit center will help people who live, work and visit in our area move more easily and quickly. I commend our state and city partners for bring this project to fruition, providing jobs to New York men and women, and proving to the world that government can get things done.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “I’m glad to see Gov. Cuomo’s administration is continuing to make progress on this long-overdue project. Manhattan has long deserved an intercity rail terminal worthy of the greatest city in the world. As this project moves forward, I look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo and Penn Station’s elected officials to make sure the neighborhood and transit network reap the full benefit of this upgraded station complex.”

New York City Council Member Corey Johnson said, “After decades of hand-wringing, New York will finally have at the heart of its transportation network, a state-of-the-art, 21st century transit hub. Spectacular in its architectural design and fit for commercial and retail development, the Moynihan Train Hall demonstrates that government can deliver remarkable results for the people it serves. For years, many talked about the grand idea of transforming the iconic Farley Post Office, but to no avail. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s vision and unwavering leadership, we are celebrating another major milestone in the transformation of Penn Station and giving New Yorkers the world-class transit hub they deserve.”

In January 2016, Empire State Development, the MTA, LIRR and Amtrak issued an RFP soliciting proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of the century-old, landmarked Farley Building, including a Train Hall and the surrounding office and retail space. RFP responses were received in April 2016 and reviewed by a panel of private and public experts from the real estate, construction, design and finance fields.

In September 2016, the Governor announced the selection of a developer-builder team, including Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA, to redevelop the Farley Building. Empire State Development and the joint-venture reached financial close on the transaction in June 2017.

Governor Cuomo is investing $100 billion in infrastructure projects across New York to promote economic development, create jobs, and expand opportunity. These investments enable New York to rebuild and modernize its roads, bridges, broadband networks, public buildings, and other critical infrastructure across the state while putting thousands of New Yorkers to work. Governor Cuomo has jumpstarted long-stalled or long-overdue projects, such as the Tappan Zee Bridge, the transformation of LaGuardia and JFK Airports, the Jacob K. Javits Center expansion, and building a new Penn Station.

LongIsland.com

CSX Woes Hurting Shippers…Wake Up Hunter Harrison

Dozens of U.S. trade groups have asked federal rail regulators to investigate CSX Corp’s “chronic service failures,” saying problems at No. 3 U.S. railroad have rippled across the North American rail network, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, from the Rail Customer Coalition sent on Monday, is the latest challenge to CSX Chief Executive Hunter Harrison’s effort to ramp up productivity at the Jacksonville, Florida-based railroad and fulfill investor expectations for substantially better financial performance.

The 44 trade groups, representing chemical and agricultural companies, steel and auto makers, and beer producers and importers, among other companies, told U.S. lawmakers on House and Senate Transportation committees “chronic service failures” could degrade the nation’s broader rail network.

“This has put rail dependent business operations throughout the U.S. at risk of shutting down, caused severe bottlenecks in the delivery of key goods and services, and has put the health of our nation’s economy in jeopardy,” they said.

The shipper groups want Congress to make it easier for them to file complaints and allow other operators to use CSX track during service disruptions, according to their letter.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said the company has acknowledged that some customers are experiencing service issues as Harrison implements his vision for driving efficiency, known as Precision Scheduled Railroading.

The letter comes about two weeks after the Surface Transportation Board notified Harrison of complaints about CSX’s service. And an analyst survey last month found shippers have moved freight to rival Norfolk Southern Corp and truckers.

CSX’s service problems were exacerbated by an Aug 2 derailment in rural western Pennsylvania that forced the company to re-route trains. Federal safety officials are investigating the cause of the accident.

Shippers and employee sources said Harrison’s changes and cuts are causing rail cars and trains to sit idle or be re-routed across multiple states, delaying product shipments, and leading to inadequate customer service.

Crowley Maritime Corporation hauled 150 container loads by truck from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, and then loaded them onto Florida East Coast Railway trains to avoid CSX’s system issues.

Current and former CSX employees say the railroad is suffering from poor communication from leadership, job cuts, and rapid changes to operations – like doubling train sizes, shutting hump yards where train cars are sorted, increasing the frequency of crew changes on a service line, and blocking overtime pay.

In Montgomery, Alabama, dwell times jumped to 60.9 hours from 35.8 hours a year earlier, and doubled in Nashville, Tennessee, to 71.9 hours. However, some of CSX’s cost-cutting moves do not appear to be dramatically affecting operating performance in other locations, based on data CSX provides to the AAR.

At CSX’s Barr Yard in Chicago, roughly seven managers now run the company’s service line, down from more than 35 managers a month ago, an employee told Reuters. The overall work force has been halved by furloughs, he said.

Simple, Big Solutions for Penn’s Problems

Gotham Gazette

The original Penn Station was an architectural masterpiece. The most ironic part about removing it in a “monumental act of vandalism,” though, is that as a transit facility the original Penn Station had serious flaws. In fact, the platforms and tracks haven’t been significantly altered in more than a century.

Unfortunately, those flaws are growing more obvious by the day. Narrow, crowded platforms and grossly inadequate stairs and escalators are a constant source of delays, dangerous overcrowding and frustration for commuters. But most importantly, Penn Station is not actually a station for most passengers – it’s a terminal. The difference is not merely semantic; in a terminal, trains must cross each other as they enter and leave, making it far less efficient than a through-running station. Even when this doesn’t cause delays, it severely limits capacity and ensures every train has to travel more slowly in Penn.

Twenty-five years ago, we could tolerate these inefficiencies, but passenger counts from Long Island and New Jersey have skyrocketed. Any major investment plan for Penn Station must be focused on solving the cause of commuters’ misery. Amtrak’s Gateway Program and the new Moynihan Station, if optimized, could do so.

Phase 1 of Gateway would add two new critically-needed tracks between Newark and Penn Station. Phase 2 of Gateway, though, includes a new terminal station—Penn Station South. This would require the demolition of an entire city block at a price tag of $8 billion to build another inefficient terminal, and do nothing to alleviate conditions in the existing station. Those funds are better spent on improving Penn and regional connectivity.

This alternate plan would remove the need for Penn Station South, provide additional economic opportunity for the entire region and the opportunity to invest in projects that create smoother and smarter commutes. Through-running is the key to unlocking the ReThinkNYC vision. Highlights of that vision include:

First, build new facilities in the Bronx and New Jersey so it is possible to operate Penn Station as a through station. NJ Transit trains could be extended to Queens, the Bronx, and then along existing Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Lines; similarly, Metro-North and LIRR could be extended to New Jersey.

Next, widen and lengthen Penn’s existing platforms – and use the 31st Street side of the station for eastbound trains and the 33rd Street side for westbound ones, regardless of final destination. Universal “smart” ticketing between the systems can help erase arbitrary distinctions.

This would allow nearly 50% more trains to use the station.
NJ Transit would no longer need to use Sunnyside Yards, making it possible to instead build a major station across the East River that would have access to all of the region’s 26 commuter rail lines, Amtrak, both Penn Station and Grand Central, and seven subway lines. Sunnyside could be the new East Midtown.

In Port Morris, the light industrial neighborhood east of the Bruckner Expressway and south of Hunts Point, commuters could catch NJ Transit and Metro-North – and an extended Second Avenue Subway serving the Bronx.

An AirTrain under the East River to an expanded LaGuardia Airport would provide a quick, convenient single seat ride for millions.

New Yorkers once dreamed of, and then built, big projects. Now, in this post-Robert Moses, post-urban renewal era, planners are taught to think “politically” smaller. This approach has prevented us from addressing transportation systemically and holistically. It’s time to think big…again.

below is the same chart as the featured image.

Jim Venturi is Principal and Founder of ReThink Studio. On Twitter @jimventuri and @RethinkNYCplan.

CVS Move Into Former Upper East Side Grocery Store Space

The Upper East Side will be getting another CVS pharmacy, as the retailer reportedly signed a lease to occupy space formerly home to a grocery store on the corner of East 86th Street and Second Avenue.

CVS plans to open a 15,649-square-foot location on the ground floor of the Yorkshire Towers building by the first quarter of 201, a CVS spokeswoman told Patch. The retail space was most recently home to a Food Emporium

The pharmacy company finalized a 15-year lease to rent the space, Commercial Observer first reported. One of the landlord’s representatives told Commercial Observer that CVS was eager to rent the space due to its proximity to the Second Avenue Subway.

The villains (and heroes) behind the subway mess

NY Post

You’re likely aware subway trains are breaking down partly because parts of the signal system date back to the 1930s. The succession of bad decisions that got you stuck in that tunnel goes back nearly as long — to the 1950s, at least. The list includes politicians and other leaders long dead or, at least, long off the public stage.

In 1952, Robert Wagner Jr., then borough president, protested any attempt to raise the transit fare from 10 cents, despite acknowledging that “the transit operating deficit” — about $500 million in today’s dollars — “is just about as large as the additional money we need this year for pensions for [city] employees.”

Wagner became mayor in 1954. Even as budget gaps grew, Wagner gave most city employees the right to collectively bargain (transit workers were already unionized, as the subways had started out in the private sector). He also massively increased social spending.

Mayor John Lindsay, Wagner’s successor, continued this strategy. That left less money for subways, which the state gradually took over from the city. The MTA spent much of the 1980s and 1990s making repairs and replacements that should’ve been done two decades previously.

In the early 2000s, Gov. George Pataki started piling on debt. He wanted projects like the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access. The MTA also had to keep repairing and replacing tracks, train cars and the like. Pataki didn’t want to pay for it. In 1999, the MTA owed $12 billion. By 2006, it owed $23.9 billion. Pataki also restructured the MTA’s debt so that the bills would come due later — today.

The MTA’s biggest problem isn’t money. It’s that it can’t do construction fast enough. But debt costs now suck up $2.6 billion in annual spending. At some point soon, the crisis won’t just be on the tracks, but in the CFO’s office.

During the 2008 financial crisis, the MTA said the same thing about its workers as Mayor Michael Bloomberg said about city workers: They couldn’t get raises unless they paid for them through productivity increases or benefits givebacks.

A year later, under Gov. David Paterson’s tenure, a supposedly neutral team of arbitrators gave the workers two years’ worth of 4 percent annual raises and health care goodies, costing the MTA $300 million a year. (The MTA now has $3.2 billion in annual benefits costs.)

In spring 2009, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith cobbled together a middle-of-the-night bailout package that awarded the MTA what today amounts to $2 billion in additional annual revenue. Again, lawmakers missed an opportunity to reform labor and construction costs.

Contrary to popular belief, Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t run the MTA. An independent board does. Yes, Cuomo names six of those board members, more than any other politician. Yet they have a legal duty to act independently. Truly independent directors would’ve questioned MTA managers’ labor-cost strategy and operational failures long ago.

They also wouldn’t sign off on major projects such as East Side Access, which will bring Long Island Rail Road trains to a station underneath Grand Central, without questioning whether it’s better to focus on something else first, like subway signals.

The board at least should’ve held off on approving East Side Access until Long Island agreed to pay a greater share, perhaps through higher property tax revenues that’ll come from better transit.

New chairman Joe Lhota, who ran the MTA five years ago, can fix this by encouraging board members to collectively assert a real strategy, rather just signing off on whatever project Cuomo feels like adding, like a $2 billion third track on the LIRR — a fine idea, but one that should wait until New York has made more progress on its aged signal system. Lhota doesn’t need this job; he has a job running a hospital. He should use that independence to push back against the governor when necessary.

MTA chairpeople are supposed to serve six years, to insulate them from day-to-day politics. But Tom Prendergast, who left early this year, was the longest recent-serving chairman and executive director — and he only served four years. Now the MTA only has an interim executive director, Ronnie Hakim, and may soon see another newcomer. (Lhota isn’t taking the day-to-day reins, only chairing the board.)

Hakim and her team should’ve considered long ago what the MTA is now thinking about: closing entire subway lines to speed up signal work. To be fair, the MTA is already planning to close the L train in two years, and the hardest work involves interlockings that control several subway lines; we can’t shut them all down.

Still, whatever the MTA is doing isn’t working. The authority has been reactive, not proactive, in experimenting with new ways to deal with sick passengers and frozen signals and record crowds.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, as he likes to remind us, isn’t in charge of the subways. Still, he hasn’t taken advantage of New York’s record revenue boom — the city will take in $6.6 billion more in local taxes than it did when the mayor took office — to benefit transit.

The state plans to invest nearly $3 billion in signals over the next five years. Why not work with the MTA to see if it can get this work done more quickly? The city could do its part by better managing the streets: carving out more space for bus lanes, bike lanes, real rideshare (with four or more people in a car) and other ways for New Yorkers to get around during shutdowns.

If the MTA can do signal work more efficiently, the mayor could offer some of these record revenues to do more. The city is putting up less than 10 percent of the MTA’s capital budget over five years; it can do more if Cuomo does more. Bloomberg is guilty of the same sin; while he pushed congestion pricing, he never thought strategically about the MTA and how the city could use money as leverage to fix it.

The subway has its heroes, too. Richard Ravitch, who chaired the MTA in the early ’80s, convinced the business community to support the taxes it would need to make up for the neglect of the previous two decades.

Sam Schwartz, the city’s former transportation commissioner, has warned about maintenance cutbacks for years — and has proposed a congestion-pricing plan to fund at least some of this work.

Long before Twitter complaints from stuck passengers, Gene Russianoff, who founded the Straphangers Campaign in 1979, made sure newspapers were armed with data on whether the trains were working well.

And finally, there’s today’s generation of transit reporters and bloggers. Nearly all of them are too young to remember the last transit crisis. Their interest in the trains, and their willingness to think about everything from pension costs to fare structures, can help ensure that this crisis never gets as bad as that one.

Where does that leave Cuomo? It’s too early to tell if he’ll be known as a hero or a villain. He’s increased the MTA’s debt to more than $37 billion, without saying how he’ll pay for it. But his excitement over projects like the Second Avenue Subway isn’t silly. We do need more subway stations.

How he handles the current crisis of delays and crowding without forcing a future generation to pick up the bill will help determine his legacy.

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

MTA can’t afford to wait on signals upgrades

Problems with both NYCT system-wide subway and LIRR signals at Penn Station require decisive action today, not tommorow.

The MTA must reprogram the $695 million Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access, the $1.7 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2, and the $1.9 billion LIRR Main Line Third Track to help fund upgrading NYCT Subway System Signals. This would provide well over $3 billion as a down payment against $20 billion needed to bring NYCT Subway System Signals up to a state of good repair.

All three canceled projects can be funded out of the next MTA Five-Year Capital Plan for 2020-2024. This still provides ample time for both Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access and LIRR Main Line Third Track project completions to coincide with LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal by December 2023 or 2024.

Governor Andrew Cuomo also needs to come up with the outstanding balance of $5.8 billion that he still owes toward the $8.3 billion shortfall to fully fund the $32 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. The MTA can’t afford to wait until 2018 or 2019 for both $5.8 billion and additional $1 billion recently pledged by Cuomo in response to the ongoing subway and LIRR Penn Station crises.

In June 2016, the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration provided $432 million in Superstorm Sandy funding to the MTA for repairs to the East River Tunnel, including signal upgrades. As of today, no funds have been spent. The MTA and LIRR have yet to complete negotiations with Amtrak for initiation of this work.

Miami Mayor Says No Money For Rail

Unlike NY City, Mayor Carlos Gimenez can’t afford to build more rail lines and should invest millions in transit dollars creating modernized express bus systems running north and south.

“I look at this as part of my job: Be realistic, bring us down to earth,” Gimenez told members of a county transportation board. “I know there’s going to be push back. I know there’s going to be a lot of people who have different ideas about what we should do. But we’ve been looking at this for some time. And these numbers are real.”

Gimenez’s $534 million proposal for rapid-bus routes would indefinitely defer the Metrorail expansion promised voters in 2002 during a referendum for a half-percent transportation tax that currently generates about $250 million a year.

It also would leave the mayor’s celebrated SMART Plan to expand rapid transit countywide mostly as a blueprint for faster bus service in the short-term rather than an historic expansion of rail in multiple directions countywide. Gimenez and his aides did say there is enough money in the current 40-year financial forecasts to allow Miami-Dade to help subsidize an expansion of Tri-Rail along existing private-sector tracks that run parallel to Biscayne Boulevard in Northeast Miami-Dade.

Other elected leaders said they would refuse to drop the rail ambitions that have come to surround the SMART Plan. Gimenez unveiled the plan during his reelection campaign last year, then touted it on a television ad under the headline “More Rail Lines.”

“If we want to get people out of their cars, they’re not going to get out of their cars for” rapid-transit buses, Commissioner Barbara Jordan told Gimenez. “But they will get out of their cars for a rail system.”

By purchasing land for dedicated bus lanes along Northwest 27th Avenue, Miami-Dade would secure real estate needed for a future rail line there if the county could afford one in the future, said Alice Bravo, Gimenez’s transit chief. “What you do now is a down payment for future rail,” she said.

Esteban “Steve” Bovo, chairman of the County Commission, said he had been holding back proposed legislation designed to accelerate rail plans so that it would not conflict with the administration’s pending plans. Bovo said he would introduce legislation inviting private developers to submit transit proposals for the SMART Plan’s six corridors, and that he wants Miami-Dade to pour money into one of them to prove something impressive can get built.

“Everything in this county has to be force fed,” Bovo said. “We’re going to be bold, or we’re not going to be bold.”

Eversource Request for License for Overhead Wires along Metro-North

The CT Dept of Transportation has decided not to issue a license that would allow Eversource to install overhead transmission lines along Metro-North Railroad corridor.
The decision was announced in a statement Tuesday by Peter Tesei, who said he was satisfied with the decision and that the need for the transmission lines had yet to be fully documented and “would disrupt continued daily operation of one of the region’s busiest transit hubs.”
More: https://greenwichfreepress.com/news/government/eversource-request-for-license-for-overhead-wires-along-metro-north-corridor-denied-by-ct-dot-91099/