Archive for the ‘Mass Transit Task Force’ Tag

Five Years Ago Today: Transit Recommendations

The jughandle turn to Route 119 is further north/Courtesy of Ian C. Ligget

Early speculation that bus rapid transit would start day one the new bridge opened in 2018 was correct, per the Final Transit Recommendations released after the final committee meeting last month in Tarrytown.

Possibly bus stops in Rockland County include: Chestnut Street Suffern, Campbell Avenue/Herrion Road Suffern, Rt. 306 Monsey, Spring Valley Transit Center, Nanuet Park & Ride, The Shops at Nanuet®, Palisades Center, Lot J, Macy’s, Nyack Hospital, Main Street, Nyack and Interchange 10 on the Thruway in South Nyack.

“It is important to note that many other transit options were considered by the (31-member) MTTF, including commuter and light rail options,” per a disclaimer. Ideas for the short-term (now through 2018), mid-term (15 years after the bridge is built), and long-term (2033 and beyond) now face land use and financial challenges.

One money source is the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program, through which $600 million was recently made available.

While the new system changes transportation options within and between Westchester and Rockland, based on studies indicating increased commuting within counties than to New York City, “Local jurisdictions will have to be consulted about whether priority transit can be done,” ARUP engineer Trent Lethco, AICP said.

If the free WiFi, better seats and covered station stops don’t attract riders, maybe the unified fare system, or priority transit will: BRT is a guaranteed 25 percent faster on local roads, 20 percent so on I-287.

Money and time savers were music to South Nyack resident Annie Hekker Weiss, who spends two hours daily in transit to work. “That’s four extra hours every day to pay a babysitter for commuting time. Thank you for helping to figure this out for us.”

“South Nyack has been recommended for a $250,000 grant through the NNYB Community Benefit Program to study Interchange 10 and potential development opportunities surrounding it,” the summary said. Ramp metering and signal upgrades are proposed for Route 59, and a future study will decide if a new Thruway exit, Interchange 14X near Airmont/Viola/Monsey, can relieve traffic on that route.

And while the new bridge’s $300 million worth of structural strength can support future rail, there’s no place to build it — now. One short-term improvement calls for an I-287 corridor study to reserve (search for) space in case new facilities are desired. “Today there is insufficient room to allow for the introduction of new measures to improve transit or transportation performance,” the summary said.

Seven proposed routes (three between the counties, three within Westchester, and one connecting Westchester to the Bronx) will connect with transit hubs, including the Palisades Center, downtown Nyack, the Shops at Nanuet, downtown Suffern, and Westchester County Airport.

Earlier-omitted travel routes were needs were added back — Suffern-to-Yonkers via a transfer at Spring Valley, Port Chester-to-Suffern trips via a Valhalla transfer — as was Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell’s suggestion to revisit the Tarrytown-to-White Plains segment of I-287 see what improvements can be made.

White Plains will get a new transit hub, thanks to White Plains Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC)’s $1 million study grant. Also in mid-term plans are Exit 11 reconstruction, West-of-Hudson rail improvements, and a new in-line BRT at the Palisades Center. East-west trains, and passenger service on the West Shore line, are planned for the long-term; the groups suggested talks with NYSDOT, MTA, and New Jersey Transit.

The invisible elephant appeared when Westchester League of Conservation Voters Board Member John Nonna commented, “The level of where you set the toll will determine the level of mass transit that will be considered.”

“Who will take the initiative to make sure the recommendations will move forward?” State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (88th District) asked. State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald replied, “Our charge was to make recommendations. It’s up to the governor and the Thruway Authority to see what are the next steps.”

My article originally appeared in the Rockland County Times March 4, 2014.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2019

Exit to Exit: a Whole Lotta Traffic In-between

You can see traffic slogging along westbound per EarthCam® camera at Westch. landing

Memorial Day Weekend. The. Westbound. Span. Should. Have. Been. Opened.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda says nothing about the fact that it hasn’t and isn’t.

During a late afternoon drove to Rockland for copies of this week’s Rockland County Times, which has my story about a woman who advocates for senior housing and safety at home, I got stuck in traffic.

I’m home waiting for a FedEx delivery that requires a signature so I’ll tell you about yesterday’s driving experience.

Silly me. It’s a holiday weekend, and the vehicular madness was well underway by the time I merged onto crowded, no, packed, 287 from the Sprain. Inching from Exit 2 to Exit 1 was a challenge; once on the Thruway, it took about 20 minutes to drive from Exit 9 (Tarrytown) to Exit 10 (South Nyack).

I miss Ramp E, the South Broadway (Route 9) entrance ramp to the bridge in Tarrytown. I really miss it when I’m in that area and have to travel west as its absence continues to cause traffic nightmares.

In its place the state is building a new facility, which drivers and I saw from the other side:

It’s ironic that the new bridge will change nothing about congestion choking 287 on its own and as arteries, like Westchester Avenue and the Sprain, merge onto it. This new bridge will offer cars and trucks — they NEED to be in their own lane! — an easy, breezy 3.1 miles of travel until bridge meets land, and the madness continues in Rockland.

What gives? The westbound span was set to open last December 2016, then in early 2017. Somewhere, sometime, project officials starting saying the bridge, shared use path (including in South Nyack), maintenance facility and new state police barracks will open in 2018.

When the super crane arrived at the project site in October 2014, Governor Cuomo held a press conference and was asked about potential tolls.

“We don’t know how much we will we get from the federal government, how much we will get from the state; there are state loans and grants we can access,” he said, citing the variables. Additional unknowns are the built-in contract incentives for Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) to finish the project before spring 2018 or penalties for completing it later.

Spring 2018 is 12 months from now, which is nearly summer if you consider it’s Memorial Day Weekend and an unofficial start of summer.

So crews need to finish the whole shebang before June 21, 2018, the real start of summer. Will the bridge builder be penalized for finishing the project one day later? Stay tuned.

It’s too bad New York State made this into a bridge project instead of sticking to a corridor project. The 287 construction was finished nine months ahead of schedule, and I’m sure (though I don’t remember) traffic “flowing smoothly” four or five years ago.

Several people working on the project told me it would be impossible to widen 287. What was the point of building a bridge between two congested highways without considering the motorists who use them?

I covered the Mass Transit Task Force meetings, where this exchange took place during the final get-together:

“Who will take the initiative to make sure the recommendations will move forward?” State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (88th District) asked. State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald replied, “Our charge was to make recommendations. It’s up to the governor and the Thruway Authority to see what are the next steps.”

The governor said on January 29, 2013 — 11 days after the bridge builder received the A-OK to begin — that completion of 287’s reconstruction and the bridge project represent how his administration cut through government dysfunction. It’s all well and good to have plans; however, as my mom’s cousin Helen used to say, “You have to look down the road a piece.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Three Lanes in Each Direction, Traffic Congestion

ice cream stand

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a ride in the country, and we had a terrific time!

* * * * *

west on the ThruwayMy friend and I left later than planned for our day trip upstate. Some define “upstate” as Westchester, some as Rockland. We planned to take Exit 16 and agreed it starts (for us) somewhere around New Paltz or Kingstson (Exits 18 or 19) off the Thruway.

It took us less time to get from my friend’s house to 287 near Exit 2 (I took the Sprain) than it did to get from that point to the bridge’s approach span. Given that it was Father’s Day, we anticipated some traffic; this amount was ridiculous.

trafficRecently I followed an online discussion and traffic on the Thruway and what happens when the new bridge is completed. Those were my thoughts as I drove; she read my mind and asked what happens if the Thruway remains three lanes in each direction?

Above is what we saw past Exit 9 westbound around 1:30 p.m. yesterday.

east on the Thruway Doesn’t look so bad, right? Probably not, compared to what happened when we were past Exit 15 on the way home (around 7 p.m.), where traffic crawled from there to bridge for the next 45 minutes. As I drove we took turns commenting about the traffic. “What’s going to happen when the bridge opens?”

Stop-and-go traffic continued until Exit 10 (left) and across the bridge to exit Exit 9. We talkI told her about the corridor project that became the bridge project.

east on the Thruway 2A partial answer to the congestion west of the bridge in Rockland and east of it in Westchester is a new bus rapid transit system. While not an expansion, this solution was discussed last year, and money to implement it was infused months later.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

Recapping the 2015 Year in Bridge

birthday-1-700x525While the New NY Bridge project had its “firsts” the Tappan Zee Bridge took center stage when kids at one elementary school made birthday cards and a banner. Last summer I wrote about how the Quonset hut used by those who built the bridge is tied into its history.

I enjoyed working with Brian Conybeare, who resigned in October, and I look forward to working with new Director of Communications Khurram Saeed.

tableEducational outreach is highlighted in the premier issue of CRIXEO Magazine, a subsidiary of Medallion Media Group (publication date early 2016). There’s more: look for the New NY Bridge project next month in Westchester Magazine’s Ultimate Guide 2016. Guess who wrote both?

With the Nyack viewing area open — it was the most popular post on this blog! — what’s difficult to see while driving is clearly visible from the shore via monoculars . . . speaking of which, the project’s website got a new look.

Prof. Ted Zoli talks abt pile cap placement/© J Rosman 2015

Prof. Ted Zoli talks abt pile cap placement/© J Rosman 2015

Despite a close call with seasickness I breathed enough clean air to capture the I Lift NY super crane’s first lift and placement. Neither that nor nasty weather weeks earlier deterred me from watching as part of the state trooper’s barracks was demolished.

No matter that we wait to drive on the first span; outgoing Executive Director Robert L. Megna told the Thruway Authority Board the new bridge will open in 2018 for less than $4 billion ($3.98 billion to be exact).

barge removed2Another exciting day was watching the crane place the first girder assembly. Other milestones: Phase 1 pile driving was completed in June, we saw the start of main span tower construction, planned dredging was done by September, and the first concrete deck panel was put in place.

The steel girder assemblies reached a one-mile point from the Rockland shoreline, the first concrete road deck panels were placed, and the crane made its first girder assembly placement for the westbound span (we’ll drive on this next year).

The toll advisory task force and a new executive project engineer were named.

Aided by blue jump forms, the towers gradually rise./NYSTA

Aided by blue jump forms, the towers gradually rise./NYSTA

As the towers were rising in September the Thruway’s response to my FOIL request about last year’s concrete batch plant mishap was continuously delayed . . . until the Thruway Authority decided it was (a) too close for comfort and asked to make it go away or (b) really didn’t have the information I’d been looking for since last December.

Dropping its appeal to use Clean Water Funds didn’t free the state from Riverkeeper, Inc.’s watch: earlier this month it put the Thruway Authority and the bridge builder on legal notice about increased Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon death.

It numbered days will include one last winter, per Megna’s decision to postpone opening the first span until spring 2017. Year four officially starts January 18.

Did I miss something? I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

No TZB Fare Hike in 2016; Toll Task Force in Place

Discounts ahead for local residents, commuters?/Rani Levi

Discounts ahead for local residents, commuters?/Rani Levi

For the sixth consecutive year tolls, including the bridge, will remain unchanged, Thruway Authority Executive Director Robert Megna told its Board yesterday.

“Given our success in balancing the Thruway’s budget and the infusion of additional funding from Governor Cuomo, we have alleviated the need to implement a toll increase for the remainder of 2015 and for all of 2016,” Megna said.

Contributing are a $1.285 billion boost to the Thruway Stabilization Fund — $750 million to the bridge project — included in the 2015-16 state budget, and the $1.6 billion TIFIA loan signed in December 2013.

The agency said independent traffic engineering forecasts “include significant upward revisions from the previous forecast submitted in May 2015. The 2016 budget forecast shows a traffic growth of 3.4 million vehicles or 1.3 percent above 2015.” More vehicles (259.3 million) equal more revenue.

Signs informing drivers of toll plaza lanes/Courtesy of Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

Signs informing drivers of toll plaza lanes/Courtesy of Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

More news: the toll advisory task force is now a reality and has until mid-2016 to brainstorm toll reviews, potential commuter discount options, a resident discount program and commercial vehicle rates. Governor Cuomo spoke about a resident discount early on; I’ve always felt commercial vehicles using the bridge deserve to pay more.

Megna and state Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll will co-chair the group, which will meet monthly, ask for public input and report its findings in mid-2016.

Albany mayor Gerald D. Jennings; Matthew Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens, Rand Realty, Rand Commercial Services and Hudson United Home Services; former state Department of Transportation commissioner Joan McDonald; Lawrence C. Salley, Chairman of the White Plains Housing Authority and former Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Transportation; and former NYC comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.

Newly named Executive Project Engineer Jamey Barbas, P.E. has more than 30 years of experience in bridge management, design, construction and inspection with a special emphasis on complex and long span bridges. Project Manager Peter Sanderson will analyze critical issues associated with construction phases.

The website has a new look. I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

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