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.

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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.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Streetsblog Founder Marc Gordon

Promotes greater efforts for accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists.

Yet also promotes anti new road dogma that primarily serves the power elite that wish to push the traffic burden disproportionately upon less affluent areas, as the primary need for new roads involve freeways that run through or near the more affluent areas. (see 48:00)   Says NOTHING about innovative freeway design mitigation.

Also promotes anti parking dogma.  (see 50:00)

"Driving is an activity that harms the world"  (52:00) -  Says NOTHING about vehicular technologies such as alternative fuels nor electric propulsion.  Nor does he mention if he owns vehicles nor drives.  Certainly if he believes such a philosophy he should not own a vehicle and should drive as little as possible with rented or shared vehicles to set the example.

Comes across as an urbanest with some good ideas - pedestrian and cyclists have been to a degree overlooked in transportation planning - yet horribly out of touch with the needs of a great many people, particularly for transportation flexibility to accommodate a wider range of dwelling and job opportunities.

Likewise, his ideas for transit primarily fixate upon slow speed rail, with little or nothing about making bus and van service more appealing at significantly lower cost.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Autombile Enthusiasts Need To SAVE Off Street Parking Requirements

Read about guys as this who look for older automobiles to save.

Think abut it.

Every older automobile that was saved had a home- namely an off street parking space of some type.  Preferably indoor, and preferably affordable.

Think of all of the older such autombiles that were tucked away in garages.

In drive ways.

In car ports.

Or even in parking lots.

Generally within some residential development, whether freestanding house, some garden apartment, townhouse or larger apartment.

Look at the paring that was provided in such developments.  And thank God for the polices of building such parking.  Just imagine how many fewer survivors there would have been without the off street parking that have served as their homes.

And consider how this is under attack.

There is this recently crafted land use movement, generally calling itself 'smart growth' or 'new urbanist'.  It claims to be pro people, and favors better accomdations for pedestrians and cyclists.

Yet it is strongly anti automobile, and weirdly anti freeway, given how the latter provide alternative routes away from the surface streets with their pedestrians and cyclists.

It has people who have a grudge against autombiles, particularly those belonging to other people, as such types generally  refrain from not owning or using one or more themselves.

Two examples of such transgressors are David Alpert and his web site Greater Greater Washington, and Marc Gordon of his web site Streetsblog.

Both are on a major mission to get authorities to reduce or eliminate parking minimums that require developers to include off street parking within their residential projects.

Peruse such sites to see this for yourself.

Read about such activities by David Alpert/Greater Greater Washington here

Alpert’s position in the fracas, though, was somewhat unique. Where most Washingtonians tend to kvetch about how difficult it is to snag a street spot, Alpert wanted less parking, not more. Back in 2008, as the District’s Zoning Commission started work on a comprehensive rewrite, Alpert embraced the idea of decreasing the number of parking spots required for new developments.

“That was my first exposure to the antis,” Alpert says, employing his general label for people who oppose change on principle. “Because I went to these meetings, and there were these people, like Barbara Zartman from the Committee of 100. She was there to fight hard for keeping the zoning the way it was, basically, against the efforts of the Office of Planning to upset the apple cart of these prohibitions on lots of things.”

Alpert took to the blog he had started earlier that year, Greater Greater Washington, to launch his counterintuitive counteroffensive. For 10 days, he posted one reason per day why parking minimums were bad: They make housing more expensive and render good commercial development projects unfeasible, he argued. They increase traffic. They’re a reason, in other words, that locals pay so much in rent, have so few places to shop, and spend so much time in traffic.

But as a July hearing on the subject approached, Alpert knew that making reasoned online arguments wouldn’t be enough. “What I was telling people was, we really need to get people to go, there’s going to be a lot of antis there, they’re really organized, they’ve got all these groups,” Alpert remembers. “And maybe our best hope is just to get enough people there so that the Zoning Commission sees that there are two sides to it, and then maybe they’ll be OK approving it.”

Sure enough, 24 advocates showed up to testify in favor of the zoning change, speaking far into the night. Only a handful came to oppose it. And the measure—a sharp blow to the District’s auto-friendly status quo—passed.

For the record David Alpert reportedly lives near DuPont Circle where he owns and keeps his own private automobile.  If that's true, he is a hypocrite, and has likely adopted this anti off street parking ideology in order to get the sort of mass coverage from corrupt media organs as The City Paper and The Washington Post that are all behaving as beholden to some elite coven that one must agree to such fallacies in order to gain acceptance.   Its the sort of dogma as 'new new roads' which really means no new freeways, as the most need ones would pass through the areas of the wealthiest and most overly influential, such as those on the north shore of Long Island opposed to any bridges or even tunnel crossings of Long Island Sound.

Nosh1- Alpert and his followers are tiresome in their lectures on how people should live, that personal vehicles in the District are unneeded luxuries, especially if you live near metro stops, regardless if you have families, jobs outside the District etc. His hypocrisy really shows through as this childless, formally retired individual lives in a multi-million dollar town-home mere steps from the Dupont circle metro stop, yet he himself has his own personal vehicle. 

This campaign against parking minimums is indeed something being pushed by a well funded array of organizations, and promoted in numerous publications, as obvious from a simple goggle search of the term 'parking minimums':

In a nutshell, they claim that providing parking makes dwellings less affordable, never-mind the dynamics of it being more like getting people to settle for a smaller and smaller piece of the pie, with no guarantee of a lower price.

Nor is there any mention of the flexibility of having the extra space.

For instance the ability to store one or more automobiles, and/or storage bins for extra personal property, nor the ability to rent out such space if one so choose to do so.

If it were more about making a dwelling more affordable than simply increasing the short term profits of the developer by inducing people to settle for, why are not these factors even mentioned in all of this discussion about eliminating parking necessarily making a dwelling less expensive?  Including parking within a building's substructure is certainly no less expensive than at the time of the initial construction

There are plenty of apartment units in Manhattan that are continually subdivided, while the price per square foot remains high.

If such had been built with greater space, including underground parking, each building would have cost more, but the expense would be amortized.

With the extra parking/storage space, there's greater flexibility to provide different sized apartments for different sized dwelling populations, thus fewer units need not necessarily result in fewer people, as there would be more families who tend to move to suburbia in part due to the lack of spaciousness.  Even upon a basis of numbers of living units, the desire to live close in could have been better met by continuing the denser development patterns for a greater area, with ample rail and bus transit and mixed use to mitigate automobile travel demand, while providing the freeways generally at the periphery of urban neighborhoods for efficient longer distance automobile travel.

Contrary to Alpert, it is not a zero sum game with extra automobile traffic with good mixed use urban design that reduces the need to use one's own automobile, while still allowing the option for city dwellers to maintain such for more occasional use.  Nor does even this more occasional such automobile use have to mean the level of auto-pedestrian conflict that we see with common urban garage entryway designs.  As earlier urban designs placed cart-ways via rearward alleys, new designs could combine that concept with street located center loader ramps that eliminate the vehicular-pedestrian conflict.

Of course all of this is least expensive when included within a building's design initially.

What Alpert and company are doing is working to eliminate parking requirements so that developers can simply make greater initial profits, and providing parking becomes more expensive and hence less practical and less likely.

Providing parking spaces will naturally be costlier in denser developed more urbanized areas, due to higher land prices, and that of excavation over above ground structures.

However, the anti off street parking movement will work to expand that to less dense areas, and should be viewed as a threat to the automobile hobby.

No longer will as many people have an off street spot or few to store older automobiles, thus encouraging many to scrap such autos, rather than keep them for the benefit of future generations.

With fewer off street spaces are fewer opportunities to use such, including that of renting spaces in urban areas at greater cost, and that in suburban and rural areas at a reduced cost- particularly useful for less expensive space for longer term, infrequently accessed storage.

One thing that people can do is boycott such developments that fail to include off street parking, particularly with projects built from the ground up where there as the opportunity for including it within the substructure, and those in more suburban areas, where developers attempt to get over upon buyers with marketing such as more 'urban' rather than just more greedy.

Another thing is to keep an eye upon the strongly out of balance anti-automobile perspective of Streetsblog.

It has numerous posts about what it terms "parking craters" in numerous cities, where one could make a case for increasing density, even eliminating some parking capacity by replacing lots for new buildings, while recoiling in horror at Streetsblog's concurrent support for eliminating relatively rare parking facilities within Manhattan for yet more of what is already common there- residential buildings.

Likewise, Streetsblog celebrates actions done in the Netherlands to make urban streets more pedestrian friendly by slowing down vehicular traffic, citing an article from there that notes the need for different approaches to road design for urban streets and freeways.  Yet Streetsblog will cite that with a tone that implies that the approach for freeways and rural highways, such as rumble strips and break away fixtures that forgive errant motorists are somehow wrongheaded- never-mind the Netherlands article making no such claim.

One merely has to listen to Streetsblog founder Marc Gordon.

His mission is not to simply make things better for pedestrians and cyclists.

It is to make it more difficult for people to use an automobile.

And as may be expected by logical extension, to own and keep automobiles.

It is as if they serve an elite.  One that prefers that fewer people have automobiles.  One perhaps heavy upon wealthy DNC funders who live in the apartment towers facing the lower two thirds of Manhattan's Central Park.  And which has little or no love for the automobile hobby.

Indeed, given the poor state of the economy, should not the political powers that be be somewhat more interested in creating jobs, particularly in the vast chasm between manufacturing and low level service jobs?

Consider the potential for job creation by stimulating the demand for restoration work.

Whether old houses, airplanes, boats, and of course automobiles.

Rather then have people keep money locked away in tax free IRA to the degree that they do, allow people the option of tax free withdrawals if the money is spent upon restoration projects.  That would create jobs, stimulate the economy with more people with work and thus money, while allowing people to maintain their equity.

With automobiles being the physically smallest of such items, so called excess off street parking becomes an important pillar of this added economic stimulus.

Eliminating off street parking requirements would only discourage such by requiring people to spend considerably more money renting such space elsewhere, denying them the cost savings if such space were included initially, for the sake of increased short term developer profits.