Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Out Of Manhattan; Disproportionately Through The Bronx

Bob Dylan's recently found apparently un-sung song against construction of the Lower Manhattan Expressway at a time of planning by Robert Moses, who opposed the necessity of such highways as tunnels to shield the adjacent-nearby neighborhoods



Listen Robert Moses by Bob Dylan

Listen Robert Moses, listen if you can.

It's all about our neighborhoods that you are trying to condemn.

We aren't going to sit back and see our homes torn down

So take your superhighway and keep it out of town.


We won't be moved, buddy, we won't be moved.

We're fighting for our rights and we won't be moved.

We're fighting for our rights from our heads to our shoes.

We're fighting for our homes and we aren't going to lose.

For twenty years there's been a shadow hanging round

That any day the bulldozers will throw our houses down.

We're going to lift the shadow once and for all good

We don't want a superhighway, we want a neighborhood.

Some of use are young and none of us are old.

But none of us like to be thrown out in the cold.

Are we squatters in the city that we are living in?

Will we stand up for our rights or be scattered in the wind?

Up and down Mulberry, Delancy Street, you hear our voices sing.

From Elizabeth to Thompson, to Varick Street and Broome. 

We're trying to have our streets from that superhighway down.

Too many other people have been driven from their doors

To make room for some highway or else some fancy stores.

They've been forced to leave their homes and all their roots

And dwell in housing projects, the reservation kind.

Its time to make a stand, it's time to try and give

This here neighborhood of ours before it lands down in the grave.

So hold up your banners and raise them to the wind

We'll stand here and fight, and fight until we win.

Joint Committee To Stop The Lower Manhattan Expressway
378 Broome Street


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Westway Opponents were even more wrong than we thought

The Village Voice was wrong about Westway- totally wrong


The Saw Mill, the Bronx River, and parts of the FDR were closed due to flooding this morning thanks to the monsoon that kicked in before dawn. But the West Side Highway, a.k.a. the Joe DiMaggio? Traffic is flowing fine there, thanks in large part because we never built Westway, the crazed multi-billion-dollar-city-in-the-river landfill project that Presidents, governors, and mayors desperately fought to build back in the 1980s. You don't remember this? Count your lucky stars. It was one of the last great attempted public arm-twistings by the Permanent Government -- a bid to give the ever-campaign-generous real estate industry its most coveted desire: More Manhattan land on which to build. ....

Marcy Benstock, the upper West Sider whose anger at the thick soot that piled up on her window sill every day turned her into one of the city's earliest and most able environmental activists, says that the decision to dump Westway looks smarter all the time. "With climate change and more severe storms hitting the Westway area of the Hudson River," says Benstock, the director of the Clean Air Campaign, "the decision not to build a development site at that damage-prone location now looks wiser than ever."Marcy Benstock, the upper West Sider whose anger at the thick soot that piled up on her window sill every day turned her into one of the city's earliest and most able environmental activists, says that the decision to dump Westway looks smarter all the time. "With climate change and more severe storms hitting the Westway area of the Hudson River," says Benstock, the director of the Clean Air Campaign, "the decision not to build a development site at that damage-prone location now looks wiser than ever."

Such was the Village Voice congratulating itself for its mindless opposition to the Westway highway project.

Now, flash forward to 2014.


At a recent holiday gathering, one of the things that came up over cocktails was Superstorm Sandy and two of the proposals to protect us from the next such storm. Both call for adding landfill in the East River near the South Street Seaport. One plan—called “Seaport City”—proposes building housing and new parks. The other—known as “The Big U”—involves digging a tunnel beneath the landfill and sending a portion of the FDR Drive underground.

The proposals come from serious planners and post-Sandy studies. Seaport City emerged from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s post-hurricane revision of his PlaNYC long-term sustainability plan. The Big U was a winner of a design competition—sponsored by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development called Rebuild by Design—seeking proposals to protect the region. Both studies noted that one of the areas least affected by Hurricane Sandy was Battery Park City, largely because it is built on landfill that helped keep back the surging waters. ...

So did the Big U, one of the winning design solutions in the HUD competition. The Big U would create a barrier system that would be combined with new buildings, bike paths and parkland that would hold or hold back water.  It would wrap around Manhattan from West 57th Street down to the Battery and up to East 42nd Street, and include a series of berms, seawalls and barriers. A key element of the design is to landfill some of the East River along the lower part of Manhattan, build parks on top of it, and tunnel a new FDR Drive beneath.

And that just may bring the Westway debate full-circle. Landfill—the very thing Westway critics warned would destroy Manhattan—now appears to be vital to the island’s survival.

Friday, April 17, 2015

New York Metro Region Needs An Additional Bridge To Connect Westchester County With New Jersey

Provide Relief to the George Washington Bridge/Trans Manhattan-Cross Bronx Expressway

Upgrade Westchester, N.Y.'s Cross County Parkway & Build A New Trans Hudson Bridge Connecting Yonkers and New Jersey with a northern extension of the New Jersey Turnpike

People have long spoke of the need for additional trans Hudson River crossings in the New York metropolitan region, something north of The George Washington, and south of the Tappan Zee Bridges, with mentions of two options from Westchester County westward to New Jersey: Yonkers, and further north in Hastings on the Hudson.

There is only one east west freeway between the George Washington Bridges I-95 Trans Manhattan-Cross Bronx Expressway and the Tappan Zee's Cross Westchester Expressway, which is the Cross County Parkway, which has its west end in Yonkers, about 1 mile from the Hudson.

The Hastings option would require an all new freeway along the Jackson Avenue corridor at least about 1.5 miles eastward to I-87 and the Sprain Brook Parkway, if not Central Avenue and the Hutchinson River Parkway just to the north of Wilmont Road.

The Yonkers option would require about 1 mile of new approach road construction, plus the option of reconstructing an additional mile or so to a reconstructed improved interchange with I--87 to handle trucks, with an existing Cross County Parkway already connecting to the Bronx River, Sprain and Hutchinson River Parkways the latter which should have its segment to the north reconstructed with at leas one additional lane in each direction.

Both options have the option of connecting in New Jersey to the north-south Palisades Parkway, where there is no east west freeway.  At one time, a western such extension was envisioned.  Steve Anderson's site discusses that - the New Jersey Route 14 Freeway - here.

Because of the lack of such a facility, some have spoke of this as simply a Parkway bridge, merely connecting an extended Cross County Parkway with the Palisades Parkway.

However, even though that latter road could be widened with adding an extra lane in each direction, from 2 to 3 lanes in each  direction, such a crossing would funnel a significant amount of traffic to the Palisades Parkways southern terminus with I-95 right at the I-95 approach to the George Washington Bridge.

And such a plan would do nothing to provide an alternative route for trucks to avoid the heavily used I-95 Trans Manhattan-Cross Bronx Expressway, which is significantly more difficult to add capacity than the parallel routes to the north.

With much of the George Washington Bridge traffic headed either west on I-80 or south on I-95/New Jersey Turnpike, the greater need would be for connecting the new Yonkers-Alpine Bridge to a northern extension from the New Jersey Turnpike.

Thus, it would be best to supplement the Palisades Parkway, with connections to link the new Hudson River Bridge with the New Jersey Turnpike.

Such an idea was once formally proposed, going all the way north to the existing interchange with I-87 in West Nyack near the Tappan Zee Bridge, but was successfully opposed.  Steve Anderson's site discusses both the built New Jersey Turnpike and ts proposed but unbuilt northern extension here.

As such, that facility provides the opportunity for an additional mixed use route that permits trucks, and would thus involve a Westchester County mixed use freeway connection to I-87 whether as an improved western  Cross County Parkway in Yonkers or an all new route further north in Hastings.

The least impactive plan for that would a route taking advantage of the northerly hook of I-95 route, immediately east the northern end of the New Jersey Turnpike, there adding an additional set of carriageways that would flank I-95 for about 1 mile before splitting away to enter a trenchway along the railroad paralleling Nordholf Place.

In order to reduce its local impacts, such should be built largely as a cut and cover tunnel further north along that railroad, coordinated with new development.   About 3 miles to the north of I-95, a drilled tunnel segment would turn easterly towards the Hudson River a bit south of the Tenafly Nature Center where the topography drops, with the roadways there emerging to connect with the new Hudson River Bridge for the Yonkers option, or a bit further north for a Hastings option.  Optionally a cut and cover tunnelway could continue northward to I-287/I-87 at the Nyack Valley Shopping Center.

I have not as of yet seen any old studies upon either a Hastings or a Yonkers Bridge.

However, a Google Earth review of Yonkers, N.Y. shows what appears to be a logical landing area, located immediately inland of the Yonkers Amtrak Station, as marked by a 2 block long north south "Bridge Street" which connects three east-west streets: Knowles Street to the north, Pier Street to the south, and Ludlow Street in the middle.  That very name "Bridge Street" suggests that this is a location where such a bridge has been contemplated.

Such an extension along either side of Ludlow Street would naturally become elevated as the topography drops towards the Hudson River.  Where the topography rises, the freeway could be built either as an open cut or a tunnel for crossing the ridge between downtown Yonkers and the existing Cross County Parkway terminus.

To handle mixed use traffic, thereby allowing a truck bypass of the George Washington Bridge, the western portion of the existing Cross County Parkway would be rebuilt to a newly upgraded interchange with I-87, with such an interchange should be built with fly-under ramps in order to provide superior geometrics with reduced visual and traffic noise impacts.  Such an interchange project would provide the opportunity to permit an additional lane in each direction upon I-87, likewise constructed in stages.  Perhaps such an interchange could be partially covered to provide extra land in the Cross County Parkway Shopping Center area.

The remaining Cross County Parkway meanwhile should be moderately improved bringing it up to at least a continuous minimum 4 lanes in each direction to its split in the Wartburg area of Mt. Vernon.  Likewise, the Hutchinson River Parkway to the north should be brought up to a minimum of 3 lanes in each direction with added stone arch overpasses constructed in northern New Rochelle and Scarsdale. 

A future project could address the Cross County Parkway east of I-87 to upgrade it ultimately to accept mixed use traffic.  Such a project would not only bring its lanes up to a 12 foot wide standard, but also lower the roadbed grade as it passes through central Mount Vernon, and erect a lid atop that trenched segment, and add a tunneled extension to I-95 in New Rochelle just south of the existing toll plaza near New Roch City.

Optionally, this new Hudson River Bridge project could be staged by deferring construction of the New Jersey Turnpike extension, and initially opening it with part of its built capacity.

Another idea would be constructing a spur link in the Riverdale area of the Bronx and south west Yonkers connecting such to the Henry Hudson and Mosholu Parkways.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

LME Route Blockage By New Essex Crossing Development Project

Yet another real estate development project without regard to the broader transportation picture.

Essex Crossing Demolition Special
Developer Profits Over People!
A new real estate development - Essex Crossing -- is scheduled to start construction in the Spring of 2015.

It's location, upon that area of parking lots to the south side of the east - west Delancey Street, and the north side of Broome Street, stretching 4 blocks eastward from Essex Street, directly conflicts upon the area for the easternmost portion of the unbuilt Lower Manhattan Expressway at the approach to the Williamsburg Bridge.

Later LME proposal with eastern portal at Essex Street

Project was pushed in 2013 by the then current NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It would create over 1,000 new dwellings.

It was to have 500 underground parking spaces.

Streetsblog is currently gloating over a decision by the developer to fail to include any vehicular parking, promoted by NYC Council Member Margaret Chin, under the assumption that everyone should be arriving by foot or mass transit.

Earlier this year, the developers decided to drop parking from the project entirely, even though the city pushed for up to 500 parking spaces — above and beyond the parking maximums that would normally be allowed under the zoning code.

The city, which initiated the project before selecting the developer, saw off-street parking as an elixir to help the project go down smoothly with the neighborhood. But it was not economical to build that much parking, and the developer eventually chose to eliminate parking entirely because site limitations would have placed the garage in a problematic location.

Streetsblog and Streetfilms recently sat down with Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the area. Chin has advocated for the city to replace parking garages with affordable housing in her district, and she thinks things will be just fine without parking in the new development. As she says, people have plenty of other options for getting around.

Parking is usually provided beneath, so it is not clear how failing to provide such necessarily means extra affordable housing.

Even if such parking was provided aboveground in a tower it is unclear why that should preclude such extra dwellings as the project does not utilize the full extent of the space as allowed under current zoning.

In any event,  Margaret Chin, who was born in Hong Kong in 1954, moved to the United States in 1963, and has been a City Council Member since 2009, has gotten on the eliminating parking bandwagon in general.

Streetsblog argues that providing parking within new projects is expensive.

There are plenty of reasons not to build parking garages. For one, they’re expensive. New York City is the costliest place in the country to build structured parking, according to the Department of City Planning, at $21,000 per space. Sometimes, it can spike as high as $50,000 per space. That would put construction of a 500-space garage anywhere between $10.5 million and $25 million.

Yet consider what is charged for such parking in New York City.

If for instance a parking spot brought an average of $50 in revenue daily, that would add up to $36,500 in two years.

If the figure were $25 daily average, that $36,500 would come in 4 years.

If $12.50, then 8 years.

Yet the life expectancy of the parking spaces would be far longer.

Such spaces provided for residents would support a more diverse population, with friends that drive in from afar, and even for use for storage bins.

And traffic into and out of the garage need not interfere with sidewalk pedestrian traffic, if equipped with center loader street ramps.

Providing such is not about ignoring transit.

Indeed would not transit tend to be better run if it were not so dependent upon the idea of making driving more difficult?

Streetsblog creator and funder Marc Gordon was reportedly not renounced his use of his private automobile. 

The Streetsblog dogma against parking is simply about maximizing developer profits, getting everyone to accept a smaller and smaller piece of the proverbial pie.

So why are his screeds against automobile use by others given so much undue respect?

Essex Crossing needs to be stopped until re-designed, with at least 500 parking spaces, and extra density, while preserving the space for the LME to dip beneath into  a new cut and cover tunnel with new buildings atop westward to the already constructed tunnel segment beneath Christie Street, before a transition to either a drilled set of tunnels, or a double deck cut and cover tunnel beneath Broome Street, so as to preserve the SoHo district cast Iron buildings.  Such a facility would connect with a West Side Highway and to a Holland Tunnel facility with at least two additional tubes,

If built in its current configuration, Essex Crossing should be considered a demolition special to be torn down and replaced with a future air rights development project atop a tunneled LME.