Today’s Headlines

  • On Wednesday Citi Bike Topped 60,000 Daily Trips for the First Time (AMNY)
  • Weisbrod: City Zoning Code Will Have to Adapt to Climate Change (Post)
  • Cuomo Doesn’t Buy NYPD Rationale for Concealing Discipline Records (Post)
  • Nicole Malliotakis Wants Bike Racks on Staten Island Buses (DNA)
  • Bike Thieves Are Ambushing Cyclists in Riverside Park in Washington Heights (DNA)
  • Richard Brown: Man Who Drove Into Crowd at Queens Baby Shower, Killing 1, Convicted of Murder (News)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Who Injured Child Tried to Surrender to 66th Precinct, Was Turned Away (News)
  • Motorist Who Parked in Midtown Crosswalk and Sped Away From Cops to Sue NYPD (Post)
  • Bronx Driver in Critical Condition After His SUV, Left in Gear, Backs Into Him (News)
  • Stray Kitten Disrupts A Train Service in Washington Heights and Inwood, Remains at Large (Post)
  • Outrage Over Bike Lanes and Parking Will Seem Pretty Dumb to 23rd Century New Yorkers (NY Mag)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Wow, someone who commits a crime can literally walk into a police station to be arrested and the NYPD still don’t care. I’ve lost count of Vision Zero fails.

  • Joe R.

    Everyone in any kind of leadership position in NYC needs to read that article in NY Magazine about sea level rise. In that context the money spent restoring Ground Zero and renovating LaGuardia airport literally seems like throwing money into the ocean. In the end nature always has its way. It’s why I feel we shouldn’t have rebuilt New Orleans after Katrina, should declare development of low-lying coastal areas off-limits, and should seriously re-evaluate things like subways. As ugly as they are, we might be better off in the long run with els. If we were smart about it, they could run in between blocks instead of over major streets (think something like 6½ Avenue). Oh, and my concept of bike viaducts is looking more logical all the time. In fact, I mentioned having a way to get around when streets are flooded as one of the selling points.

  • AMH

    Hilarious that there’s another subway kitten delaying service. Also hilarious that the Post puts a photo of a 7 train in a story about the A train.

  • Vooch

    Citibike Records will Continue to explode year round. Once the expansion to 125th settles into place, we can expect a 100,000 trip day in Sept 2017.

    Let’s recall only a couple of years ago,

    http://www.cc.com/video-clips/2ildb8/the-colbert-report-nyc-bike-share

  • Mike

    I’m not sure you could but els between blocks without knocking down a lot of buildings that would be in the way.

  • Joe R.

    Not in Manhattan but in parts of the city where buildings are less than ~100 feet tall it’s feasible. That covers most of the outer boroughs. Building them over expressways is another option.

  • HamTech87

    omg. not sure how i missed that one, but that was hilarious.

  • Mike

    The vast majority of non-Manhattan track miles are already elevated.

  • HamTech87

    But not MetroNorth and Amtrak. The Hudson Lines seems particularly vulnerable.

  • HamTech87

    Agreed. Isn’t it weird that the article never mentions Governor Cuomo?

  • ddartley

    Wow, that Colbert bit is really, really good. Don’t even find it all that funny, just really good.

  • Vooch

    Colbert & Dorothy Rabinowitz riffing on the evils of Citibikes begriming the best, most picturesque, neighborhoods of the City

    is a classic for the ages

  • Flakker

    if we were smart, we’d implement federal carbon taxes that would be directed at building carbon dioxide-removal machines or other carbon offsets that would result in cars, trains, planes, ferries, and finished products paying for their externalities.
    The country we’re in is where Trump has a nonzero chance of winning the presidency even as he hasn’t said, and will never say, anything of substance. Even as he’s obviously lying to his own supporters. Not to go all political here but I don’t take this discussion too seriously when a significant chunk of the American populace is too stupid to survive the immediate future without help, and some nerd is talking about the collective will to make Venice-on-the-Hudson in 2100.

  • AnoNYC

    The Bruckner Blvd Greenway/bicycle lane between Hunts Point Ave and Longwood Ave is finally complete. Took forever to get done.

    It’s also pretty useless without the extension down into E 138th St in BX CB 1. Surprised that phase two has not been announced yet. The neighborhoods are in favor, and the reconfiguration of Bruckner Blvd in BX CB 1 is a big deal.

  • Vooch

    I’d argue that a simple solution is to build gates-storm barriers at the Verrazano Narrows and Hell’s Gate. This is the solution implemented by The Dutch at the mouth of the Rhine – relatively inexpensive and effective

  • JamesR

    There would be absolutely nothing simple or inexpensive about implementing a multi-billion dollar piece of infrastructure like this. Those two words shouldn’t even be in the same sentence as storm surge barriers.

  • Vooch

    The Dutch built equivilant barriers at mouth of Rhine with minimum of fuss. Cost less than a billion; simple is correct description

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maeslantkering

  • Joe R.

    NYC’s version would probably take 75 years to build and cost about $1 trillion. Besides that, it probably would be designed for the sea levels 50 years from now, so it would be functionally obsolete before it was finished. We’re just really, really bad at big infrastructure projects in this part of the country.

  • Vooch

    we could Hire ths Dutch :)!

  • Frv Jum

    The Verrazano Narrows is four times wider than that Dutch gate. I don’t know how the cost and complexity scale, but it might be worse than linear.

  • Vooch

    only Need a Barrier As wide As The Rhine Channel entrance which Happens to Be busiest harbor on Earth

  • Vooch

    Better than a Carbon tax would Be to Remove all subsidies for Mass Motoring & coal fired power plants.

    Removing subsidies Is straightforward compared to a Carbon tax

  • ahwr

    As ugly as they are, we might be better off in the long run with els. If we were smart about it, they could run in between blocks instead of over major streets (think something like 6½ Avenue).

    Between blocks where there are buildings?

  • Joe R.

    Yes. Most of the complaints about els are because they darken streets and are otherwise an eyesore. In between blocks they would mostly be above buildings, and hence not very intrusive.

  • ahwr

    You don’t think there would be complaints from the property owners who don’t want a loud train rumbling overhead every couple minutes in the morning and at least a few times an hour all night long? It would be like putting in a highway, you’d have to buy up tons of property and displace a lot of people. There would be some of that running over a street, but not nearly as much. And given the wide roads the city has in areas not served by subways, and the smaller footprint that modern Els are capable of, it would be much less disruptive than running it a half block over.. The highline is different. The buildings you see it run through developed around it. The rail line wasn’t rammed through them.

  • Andrew

    You are correct about the obvious major disruption that rail lines above buildings would impose. There’s a reason rail lines rarely run above buildings. Off the top of my head, I can think of one notable exception: the Fairway supermarket on West 125th. It’s deafening when a train passes overhead, and the subway runs a lot more frequently than Amtrak’s Empire Service.

    But there’s far more to it than that. The elevated line would need to be high enough to pass over the tallest building in its path (and would permanently bar any taller buildings from being built underneath). In even low-density parts of the city, that can be quite high; in moderate and high-density parts, it would be hundreds of feet in the air. What sort of footprint would such a tall structure require, and where do the supporting columns go given the buildings underneath? How many elevators would each station need to carry passengers up and down? How is basic maintenance handled? How do emergency evacuations take place on structures so tall? How windy does it get before service is shut down or, even worse, before the structures themselves are jeopardized? How are platforms kept clear of snow in the winter? If the structures aren’t open to below, how often will service shut down in snowstorms? And if they are open to below, who’s responsible for keeping the buildings below stations free of litter?

    It sounds like the cure is worse than the disease. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what disease we’re trying to cure.

  • Joe R.

    I think you’re overestimating how high buildings are or need to be in most of the city. You raise several valid objections to the idea, but I’d say height isn’t one of them. Consider that most of NYC with very tall buildings already has subways, so no need to build an el there. Granted these subways are and will be prone to flooding, but I can’t envision any scenario where it would be more cost effective to build els rather than to make the existing subways flood resistant.

    That leaves the outer boroughs. Thankfully, most of the subways which exist in the outer boroughs aren’t in flood plains. However, there will eventually be a need for subway expansion. In fact, we probably should have expanded the system decades ago. So the only open question is do we expand it with subways or els? Els offer immunity from floods in low-lying areas. They offer system expansion at lower cost elsewhere. Their obvious downside is that they’re eyesores. That’s where the building them midblock idea comes from. In most of where we might build new subways building height isn’t an issue now, nor would we ever conceivably want to build higher than perhaps 80 or 100 feet.

    On the other issues, they apply whether or not an el is built midblock or over a street. Obviously there are going to be some limits to how high we can go just as there are limits to how deep subways can be. In both cases the limits are about 100 feet. It’s easy enough to roof over platforms so they remain clear of ice or snow. In fact, in theory if you have platform edge doors you can have elevated platforms totally enclosed and even heated or cooled. That also prevents litter from dropping on the street below. And if snow accumulating on tracks is an issue, you could probably roof over the entire structure, perhaps even use a concrete tube where the trains run inside.

    I’m not sure noise would be a major issue with new elevated structures, especially in you enclose them as I described.

    Of course, we could also opt to build subways, which I personally prefer anyway. The downsides are cost, construction time, and if building in low lying areas potential to flood.

    In the end, this discussion is probably moot anyway. The reality is that NYC not only won’t expand the subway, but will let it deteriorate to the points of uselessness, much as was the case in the 1970s. We’re already seeing a decrease in MDBF. Trains are frequently late. Stations are overcrowded. Eventually we’ll just perform triage on the system, shutting down the lesser used portions first so we have money to keep the rest going. When the next Sandy hits, we won’t even have that.

  • fdtutf

    The elevated line would need to be high enough to pass over the tallest building in its path (and would permanently bar any taller buildings from being built underneath). In even low-density parts of the city, that can be quite high; in moderate and high-density parts, it would be hundreds of feet in the air. What sort of footprint would such a tall structure require, and where do the supporting columns go given the buildings underneath? How many elevators would each station need to carry passengers up and down? How is basic maintenance handled? How do emergency evacuations take place on structures so tall? How windy does it get before service is shut down or, even worse, before the structures themselves are jeopardized? How are platforms kept clear of snow in the winter? If the structures aren’t open to below, how often will service shut down in snowstorms? And if they are open to below, who’s responsible for keeping the buildings below stations free of litter?

    And would it actually be possible to build a railway that high, given the steep grades that would almost inevitably result? A normal adhesion railway probably couldn’t handle those grades — especially in any kind of wet conditions.

    At least the tracks probably wouldn’t get wet leaves very much, though; they’d be quite high above all the trees….

  • Joe R.

    There are railway viaducts up to several hundred feet high. Grades are not necessarily steep. Not sure why they would be in NYC, either, given that such a thing would remain high, not go up or down. Also, subway trains have all wheels powered. They can climb much steeper gradients than locomotive-hauled stock.

    The Smith 9th Street station is 87 feet above street level. This is roughly how high I imagine you might need to go with a hypothetical el running above typical buildings in the outer boroughs. We’re not talking about megastructures hundreds of feet high although that would certainly be fascinating if we had a good reason to building that high. I could envision some sort of Manhattan “skyway” running perhaps 1500 feet above the street in some alternate reality where such a thing made sense.

  • ahwr

    Small grades, so if an area with short buildings is near an area with tall buildings it would look like this?

    https://goo.gl/maps/V1q5QQesqgt

    Or look here

    https://goo.gl/maps/KDgFB9aKmxH2

    It’s a place where a new rail line heading east might be nice to have. Turn in any direction and you have six+ story buildings. A half block over and the El would look like my first link. And you have such a wide road. Just run it over the road.

  • Joe R.

    Of course you could run it over a road. The issue is the usual NIMBY objections. I suppose those would exist if you ran it midblock, but my guess is they might be less. I think it’s fair to say quite of bit of our existing NYC infrastructure, both elevated highways and els, probably couldn’t be built in today’s NIMBY climate.

    And yes, it would look like your first picture if built above an area with short buildings. Incidentally, similar reasoning might apply to my bike viaduct concept. You might not necessarily strictly follow strict level. You might be lower where the street level is higher above sea level and vice versa, the idea being to even out the worst grades somewhat. For example, let’s say we built one on Union Turnpike. It might be 20 feet above the street at 164th Street but might be 40 feet high above Utopia Parkway simply to keep the bikeway more or less level. And you might start the long climb to Springfield Boulevard perhaps around 180 Street instead of in the low 200s. In the case of both bikes and railways, viaducts let you compensate somewhat for severe gradients at ground level.

  • fdtutf

    Not sure why they would be in NYC, either, given that such a thing would remain high, not go up or down.

    The yards will be up in the air, too?

    A parallel bikeway at that height would be even more cool (and even less practical).

    And super frightening! *eek* 😉

  • Joe R.

    As long as the bikeway had rails of some sort it probably wouldn’t be that frightening. Obviously something like this isn’t even remotely practical. I’m not even sure if we could build it with today’s technology. It is a nice thought experiment.

    In the realm of more fantasy, my late father actually suggested building a bridge across the Atlantic Ocean. For cars no less. He didn’t get it that we couldn’t build 4 mile piers to the ocean bottom. Nor would it be practical on any level even if it could be built.

  • fdtutf

    I do want them (the generic “them”) to build that train tunnel through/under the Atlantic, though.

    Of course I’d never live to see it…. 🙁

  • ahwr

    Can’t build a floating bridge?

    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/transportation/article/Floating-bridges-of-the-world-2971885.php

    Also, that would be a long drive.

  • Joe R.

    Well, the train tunnel under the Atlantic which fdtutf mentioned is actually supposed to be bouyant and anchored in place, so it is possible conceptually.

    Speaking of floating bridges, I was always under the impression the Portal Bridge on the NEC is floating on pontoons. It certainly looks that way in the Google Earth view:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7532706,-74.0950222,444m/data=!3m1!1e3