Today’s Headlines

  • TA: Six Months Into Vision Zero, Enforcement Is Up But Uneven Across NYPD Precincts (News)
  • WNYC Profiles 10 New Yorkers Killed in Traffic So Far This Year
  • Straphangers: 7 Train Ranks the Best, 2 Train the Worst in NYC (CapNYDNAWSJWCBSAMNY)
  • Teen Driver Who Killed Ariel Russo Facing Up to 15 Years — And Is a Placard Abuser (News)
  • Disability Advocates Sue City, Saying Sidewalks Below 14th Street “Too Difficult to Use” (NYT, Post)
  • NYT Looks at the Rail vs. Trail Divisions Over the QueensWay
  • With Suicides Rising, Port Authority to Install 9-Foot Fence on GW Bridge Paths (WCBS, News, Post)
  • Ribbon Is Cut on Plaza Upgrades Beneath 7 Train on Queens Boulevard (Brownstoner, DNA)
  • Architects Reimagine How Parking Mandates Could Work In NYC’s “Inner Ring” (Architizer)
  • The Advance Wants to Know: Where Have You Seen Staten Island Drivers on Cell Phones?
  • Tonight: DOT Unveils Safety Improvements to West End Avenue (WPIX)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • urbanresidue

    There is a much clearer “Broken Windows” case for eliminating placard abuse than hassling subway performers or cyclists at t-intersections, but don’t expect the NYPD to do anything that would limit their ability to break the law for their own convenience or take out their aggression on groups they don’t identify with.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    Isn’t it obvious that for vision zero to succeed for pedestrians that the “powers that be”, the police and politicians must get out of their offices and automobiles and walk the same streets that we do?

    Everywhere I walk, all the time, every day I observe speeding, red light and stop sign running, failure to yield, and encroached crosswalks. How can we allow this to be the norm rather than the exception?

  • Tyler

    Wow! I’m glad you relinked that old story about the placard abuse in lower manhattan.

    Setting aside the general state
    of corruption and false sense of entitlement of these placard-holders, the most infuriating statistic
    above was “22% of loading zone spaces were removed from the commercial
    supply due to permitted vehicles parking in those spaces.”

    Other
    than access for emergency vehicles, access for the delivery of goods and
    services is at the TOP of my priority list for why I pay taxes to build and
    maintain the roads! We don’t have a socialized infrastructure so some
    jerky with a placard or even I, parking legally, gets to scoot around
    and park a car. We have a socialized infrastructure to support common
    needs!

  • Tyler

    btw, $37-47 million and EIGHT years to install a fence on the GW bridge?! What the f*^k is wrong with this part of the world. There is absolutely no way this is a rational number.

  • bolwerk

    If we had applied Broken Windows to the police force in the first place, Eric Garner might still be alive. The oinker who murdered him had several prior minor infractions.

    But, like stop ‘n frisk, nobody supports those policies for themselves. They only apply to other people who are less deserving than them.

  • bolwerk

    There is plenty of park space in that part of Queens, and no particularly good transit access. A reactivated rail line could change that, turning something like Forest Park into another Prospect Park.

    I have a sneaking suspicion the rail-to-park advocates want to make sure that whole section of Queens just stays inaccessible and “car-friendly.” There is literally no good reason to believe a High Line-esque design would be meaningfully utilized. “It worked in Chelsea” is just not a reason.

  • van_vlissingen

    $34-47 million & 8 years, to build a fence? This is how CalTrans fixed the problem at the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Tyler

    You’re very sassy. (I totally agree with you, but… very sassy!)

  • Ian Turner

    No longer. California is gonig to spend nearly $100m on suicide prevention for the golden gate bridge. (That’s about $70k per would-be jumper, assuming that nobody jumps elsewhere).

    http://www.ggbsuicidebarrier.org/

  • fkg

    Does the rail line come with a hundred million dollar well managed conservancy and an active well off community to support the park?

    Much of forest park is natural area or golf course. That doesn’t accommodate the masses you get in the city’s premier parks, despite it’s size. The park is divided in two by Woodhaven, to get from a hypothetical rail stop to the carousel, any meadow or other space you were to put in where the golf course is now, the tennis courts etc…you’d have a decent length walk after crossing a busy and very wide road. There are ways to make the park better, and it would be great if the city would support the park, but I doubt it would ever be ‘another Prospect Park’, and it most definitely won’t be from simply adding a train running through the park, in addition to the freight trains that run through the park.

    South of the park you have minimal open space and two subway lines. How much would a QB local that at peak will run maybe 8 tph going to help?

    50 years of being left to rot takes it’s toll. How much of the line won’t need major work or a complete rebuild to support heavy subway trains? It’s going to be a bigger project than ripping out some trees and old tracks and putting in new ones.

  • bolwerk

    A rail line would actually move people across the city in a way that isn’t currently possible. You don’t need a conservancy (which, unlike the High Line, “QueensWay” would be unlikely to achieve) to have a nice park people would like to use. You do need access.

  • fkg

    South of the park the area isn’t that dense, and it already has two subway lines, the issue is whether people are heading to somewhere along QB – how many are? Midtown east you’d get a few minutes savings over the A, midtown west maybe not. North of the park the dense parts are close enough to QB to walk, especially east of the corridor to get to an express stop (especially the E).

    It would be nice to have, but there are more worthy transit projects.

    So other than dumping more people into the current mess that is forest park how exactly do you plan to fix it up with no funds or community involvement?

    A linear park is more of a local amenity than a massive park a train ride away. It’s easier to get more community involvement for local parks, and it would give people access to forest park as well.

    And given the state of the former RBB, how would costs compare to an elevated line over Woodhaven from Yellowstone to liberty, which is closer to the denser development anyway.

  • Guest

    Architects Design Fix For New York’s Retro Parking Requirements

    http://architizer.com/blog/architects-design-fix-for-new-yorks-retro-parking-requirements/

  • Kevin Love

    This is truly insane. Does anyone seriously believe that if people are suicidal there are no other ways of killing themselves? What a waste!

    And if we somehow miraculously prevent all methods of suicide, people are still living with the despair and mental health issues that caused them to be suicidal in the first place.

    Those sums of money would buy a lot of health care resources for mental health to PREVENT these issues in the first place.

  • Tyler

    There is no doubt that suicide is a horrible thing. But I don’t understand how this relatively small number of deaths (approx. 475 suicides per year… and only 18 or so are actually on the damn GW bridge). The current deterrent methods taking care of the other 30-40 attempts.

    Given that traffic deaths are basically on par with the city’s murder rate and the staggering number of traffic-related injuries *every day* — it seems that the limited resources of the federal, states and city governments could be better spent. Spent in a way that, sorry to be callous, are not expecting to die or have life-changing injuries.

    I mean, $47 million could buy like 2 million smoke/CO detectors. Passing out free detectors — or even spending $1 million to pass out damn flyers about the importance of smoke detectors — would probably save more lives than this $47 million fence on the GW bridge (a fence that will probably end up costing $65 million for mysterious reasons and prove to be ineffective because nowhere in the budget was a *competent* designer/architect included).

  • Tyler

    (I meant to write “But I don’t understand how X justifies Y” but I apparently got distracted.)

  • qrt145

    One can certainly question the cost-effectiveness of this approach to suicide prevention, but all the research I’ve read indicates that bridge suicides are often impulsive acts, and that many of the people who attempt them and survive, or are deterred from jumping at the last minute, never try again. So the argument that “people will find other ways of killing themselves” is not as strong as it might seem.

  • AnoNYC

    They might avoid that bridge completely and choose an easier target. Plenty of bridges to jump off of in this city.

    Seems like this money could be better spent elsewhere,

  • qrt145

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_barrier and references therein. While not a guarantee that it will work in NYC, there is precedent from places where a suicide barrier was installed on one bridge and the suicide rate at nearby unprotected bridges and structures did not increase.

    While it’s hard for me to enter the minds of people who jump from bridges, it appears that at least a fraction of them would only do it from a “celebrity bridge”. So people who find that they can’t jump from the GWB won’t necessarily go and jump from a relatively less famous bridge such as the Queensboro bridge (which I believe has a fence already, but I may be misremembering as I haven’t crossed it in a while.)

  • vnm

    The GW Bridge bike/ped paths have signs like that already, with a phone number.

  • vnm

    “it seems that the limited resources of the federal, states and city governments could be better spent”

    That’s probably true, but in this case it is not relevant. The federal, state and city governments are not spending anything for this. The money is coming from the Port Authority, which is entirely self-funded through bridge and tunnel tolls, PATH and AirTrain fares, and airport fees.

    The Port Authority has a problem: people jump off its bridge. The Port Authority is looking to solve its problem. It’s not looking to address any broader societal ills that may be the underlying causes of suicide. It just wants people to stop people from jumping off its bridge. And toward that end, this is probably an effective, if expensive, solution. It will also wreck the gorgeous view.

  • How about increasing the reach of PATH trains, not to the airport, but inside Manhattan, Hoboken, and Jersey City? That could greatly reduce driving, congestion, pollution, etc., and indirectly eliminate far more than 16 deaths per year.

  • NOOOO!! Don’t take that beautiful view away!!

  • Maggie

    I’ve been truly astonished at the leniency Justice Gregory Carro has offered Ariel Russo’s killer. Driving recklessly, unlicensed, pulled over by cops in a precinct that at the time rarely pulled anyone over for anything. Fled the NYPD stop. Sped up Amsterdam Ave. Killed a 4-year-old. Injured her grandmother. While on the run from NYPD.

    A year later, the judge offers him 16 months in jail and a sealed record, quoting his “otherwise respectable personal history.” Three weeks later, he and his dad are arrested for burgling a deceased woman’s apartment. And now the judge is still trying to decide whether to treat Ariel Russo’s family with a shred of respect, and treat their daughter’s killer like exactly that: the guy who killed a 4-year-old cause he didn’t feel like doing anything else.

    Long-winded way of saying, I’m disgusted with the news here, and wondering what is the best way for concerned voters and citizens to get judges on the bench who take our lives and the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors seriously.

  • bolwerk

    I don’t know what you consider not very dense, but Woodhaven the neighborhood (immediately south of the park, though which the line passes) is the 11421 zip code. It has a population of 39,127 and squeezed into 1.2 sq. miles, which puts population density well over 30,000. The nearest other zip code south of the park is 11418, which still has a rated density of 22,048 and it includes much of the park. Both are above average for Queens.

    …but there are more worthy transit projects

    But not many cheaper ones for the high level of potential ridership and ancillary benefits to the rest of the subway system. Not to mention irreplaceable features, like the potential for direct Midtown East-JFK access.

    So other than dumping more people into the current mess that is forest
    park how exactly do you plan to fix it up with no funds or community
    involvement?

    The only mess I’m aware of at Forest Park is horrible accessibility, and I live within biking distance. The Parks Department pays for it.

    A linear park is more of a local amenity than a massive park a train ride away.

    That’s not how it has been played in the press, or by its advocates.

    And given the state of the former RBB, how would costs compare to an
    elevated line over Woodhaven from Yellowstone to liberty, which is
    closer to the denser development anyway.

    For track removal, multiply the number of linear feet by about $10. Figure $8-10M/mile for replacement. Add for station costs and, if any, repairing structures (e.g., bridges). Also add in any new structures required, if any.

    Going by AirTrain costs, a new el is probably about $300M/mile and I think it goes without saying it would likely attract considerably more opposition than a rail bed that is already there anyway. Rightly so too, since an el would blacken out a street.

  • bolwerk

    I always though PATH to Atlantic Avenue was a cool idea, but I’m not sure it’s technically feasible.

  • Tyler

    OK. I accept that… the Port Authority is self-funded, but this particular problem strikes me as a ridiculous use of its limited resources. This strikes me as some sort of political pandering exercise that amounts to “Well, we’ve got the money, let’s spend it.” Like Tal F. said, they could probably come up with a $47 million idea to reduce idling, congestion and pollution…

  • fkg

    An el would not block out Woodhaven!

    Are those costs for RBB what it should cost or what it would cost in NYC?

    Estimate for the structures that need to be replaced? compensation for using people’s yards as a staging ground? New stations? What’s the condition of the railbed? Does it need to be rebuilt, or can it withstand heavy trains for another 50+ years without it? What work has the MTA done on the southern half of the line that the northern half hasn’t seen the last 50 years?

    I’ve heard conflicting things, how much of the connection to QB actually exists? Would zero tunneling be required?

    Yes the neighborhoods south of the park aren’t the most sparsely populated, north of the park is pretty light though, but they already have two rail lines to the south, on Jamaica and Liberty. And once the LIRR stops running most trains to Brooklyn then adding stops on Atlantic would become feasible if you just want to give them something faster.

    Are you suggesting ripping out air train to send the R/M to JFK instead of to Rockaway? If not, how would that be faster than the E or more expensive LIRR to Jamaica and airtrain from there? You’d still need the airtrain from Jamaica and more importantly for circulation through the airport, wouldn’t you? It seems unlikely that a low frequency subway would be better than airtrain for that. And unless you have a subway stop at each terminal in addition to airtrain most would have to transfer to that anyway, minimizing whatever advantage a local QB subway with a transfer later in the trip would have over an express subway or more expensive LIRR with a transfer earlier in the trip at Jamaica. If it saves time, how much?

    The trails are a mess, they fixed them up a couple years ago, some of them anyway, by throwing down some woodchips, and it took about a week before they were covered in trash, broken glass, soiled condoms, and the occasional needle as before. Horses are routinely taken off the bridle path and onto the narrow walking trails where they are not permitted, and where there’s no room to step around their shit. There are large objects, like tires, littered along Forest park drive east of Woodhaven, with the pavement in shoddy condition in a bunch of spots, making it hard to use a road bike if you don’t know where to slow down. the gates along forest park drive at Woodhaven going east, at myrtle/108 and at metro are routinely left open. Cabs and perhaps others take the shortcut through the park sometimes. Parks doesn’t have enough money for the park.. NYPD doesn’t patrol it except for a bit after a rape. If you want Forest Park to be a premier park it needs money for permanent staff to keep it clean, and more community involvement, and signifcant funds for capital investment. A rail line is no panacea.

    The park doesn’t have much open space like the city’s other premier parks, especially near the rail corridor. There’s the overlook, and that is heavily used, especially weekend’s in the summer, but the EF kew gardens stop is closer than the M/R would be.

    It sort of does across Woodhaven, especially if you get rid of the golf course, but that seems hard to swing. And forest park drive has cars on that side with a narrow sidewalk, often in a state of disrepair, and leads to big parking lots in the west half. The bandshell and carousel look like they need some attention too.

    You can change most of that, but it takes more money and political will than the city spends on parks, and more than locals seem interested in donating.

    I don’t know where they plan on getting money for Queensway, I don’t know what they plan on putting up, how they plan on maintaining it (locals aren’t enough) and I don’t think they know either. The area isn’t exploding with green space, but if you fix up forest park, and yes, add access, you could reduce the appeal of queensway. Other linear parks I’ve been to outside of NYC attract a strong local constituency, as a larger share of park users than large premier parks. They take care of it, or at least lend a hand, more than they can in larger parks. And speaking of access, it is a big problem, but, the rail line doesn’t help everyone. Trying to get into the park from across union tpke isn’t the easiest. Few entrances, and a tough road to cross, a long distance between lights or even crosswalks. Metro all the way to 71st ave, but there is a park entrance between them on 72nd rd, about a quarter mile from a crosswalk. West of there by the big coop building it’s not the prettiest going in, but if you enter there you can see that their parking lot is on the ROW and that you have 50 year old trees poking through the rusted tracks. It’s fun to walk along, though usually there is a homeless guy living under the Jackie Robinson. There are a few places to poke through from park lane S, but it’s not an easy road to cross – cars coming off the Jackie robinson and heading to points south are still in highway mode and the road has that curve after metro, it’s a lot worse than you’d think just based on the width, and where you can get through into the park it’s not exactly an official entrance until you get to myrtle. Getting into the west half of the park isn’t much better. From the north the highway and golf course don’t help, the south is better though.

    And for people 1-2 miles a way, there aren’t any great roads to bike on, so that’s not a great option. For those along the corridor but still less than three miles away, I wonder if better bus service on Woodhaven won’t end up helping as much as rail would, given the higher frequencies. M/R is limited to 8 tph, and probably you’d see less than that off peak, unless you want to cut local service the last few stops on QB, which seems like a hard sell politically. The speed advantage of rail gets wiped out on a short trip if you have to wait an extra five minutes for a train over an SBS line.

    What’s the estimated ridership in these neighborhoods from an extended M/R?

    Out of curiosity where do you live?

  • Joe R.

    An el would not block out Woodhaven!

    Not to mention that Woodhaven is hardly a thing of beauty even without an el. A well-designed el might actually enhance it. Objections to els are valid if they’re going through nice-looking, mostly residential streets, but let’s face it, Woodhaven looks like crap. It’s an ugly car sewer. It’s not even worthy of aesthetic considerations at this point.

  • Joe R.

    What bothers me even more is the sheer amount of time cases like this take to get to court. The law works better when prosecution is immediate. He should have been put on trial within a week after he was caught. Indeed, there are places where people are caught, tried, and if applicable executed within a week. The connection between crime and punishment is lost if it takes a very long time to bring perpetrators to justice. Basically, he was able to go on with his life shortly after being caught. Even assuming he has to go to prison, he’ll have had over a year of freedom he never should have had. This wasn’t a case where there was ever any doubt if the police charged the right person, in which case I might say a year out on bail was justified. No, it was clear they had the perpetrator here. If the legal system is ill-equipped to try him until an entire year has passed, at the very least he should have been locked up that entire time.

    I also hope part of the condition for his eventual parole is that he never be allowed to drive a motor vehicle again.

  • bolwerk

    Yes, true, given its width, it would only block out a lane or two. However, it strikes me as a political nonstarter.

  • vnm

    You are correct. Sadly, that would cost an order of magnitude more money — tens of billions of dollars. This fence costs tens of millions.

  • Bolwerk

    Sorry, just noticed this.

    They’re what it should cost, though NYC probably isn’t too out of proportion to anywhere else on those essential elements I talked about. If NYC blows the costs up, it will be because it overbuilds.

    This thread is probably dead, but I’ll try to give the best answers I can on some of that other stuff:

    Re third paragraph “Estimate for…”: a lot of that stuff is as expensive as you want to make it. Stations can be concrete slabs or overbuilt megastructures. I don’t think you need to worry much about eminent domain and taking. It’s a two track ROW, so there wouldn’t be much need for staging in other people’s yards. Encroachments are already owned by the city, so that only requires an eviction process. It’s largely at-grade or on an embankment, so I doubt the RR essentials (track, signals) are a lot different from greenfield construction at most. NJT was able to rebuild a stretch of the Lackawanna for about $6M/mile.

    Re QB connection: I couldn’t find a map explaining, but it seems there are junctions and tunnel bellmouths.

    Re the airport: I wouldn’t suggest anything, though I think it would be good to keep the option to connect someday open. For now, I think it would be quite adequate to create a low-volume RBB service (e.g., the M Train) linking the Rockaways to QB and Midtown East. It’s not just to serve the neighborhood, but because it creates a more complete transit network for Queens with huge potential for growth into new reaches of the city if a future generation can get its act together on cost control.

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