Today’s Headlines

  • Cuomo Scales Back Transit Service for the Storm (PostAMNY, NY1)
  • How the MTA Handles a Big Snowfall (AMNY)
  • NYPD Charges Tow Truck Driver With Failure to Yield for Killing Ping Xie, 81, in Flushing (Gothamist, TL)
  • Two Injured in Four-Car Pileup in Dongan Hills (Advance)
  • No Speed Camera Technicality Too Small to Escape Attention of the Advance
  • Construction Industry Wants Cuomo to Restore $65 Million for Transit in Final Budget (Crain’s)
  • New Plaza Coming Below the Brooklyn Bridge, If It Survives the Local Complaint Brigade (Bklyn Paper)
  • Why Is the GWB Bus Terminal Renovation Two Years Behind Schedule? (NYT)
  • MTA Adds a Morning Bus Run to the X12 (DNA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    The article doesn’t actually say “why” the bus terminal project is behind schedule, but let me give it a try. Contractors, like unionized public employees, have a “right” to their government money. But no such right exists in private, voluntary construction contracts.

    Private construction is booming in NYC right now. So if there aren’t enough workers and managers to go around, who are the contractors going to stiff? The government? Or the developer who might never do business with them again?

    Bottom line: government agencies should not pay the “prevailing wage,” and they should not do projects during construction booms. They should plan projects during construction booms, and ramp them up during busts, demanding a break from companies and workers and materials suppliers who are lucky to have a job at those times. Smoothing out their income.

    Now is a bad time to do work that competes with apartment buildings, like a bus terminal. But a good time to do work that competes with offshore oil platforms and coal mining, like tunnels.

  • bolwerk

    I agree with you, but another really inexplicable angle is the absurd timeframe of any given construction project like this. It’s not just that we’re paying double (or whatever) the labor cost rates of Germany. It’s that we’re paying double (or whatever) the labor cost rates and then continuing that rate for a much longer period of time because we take forever to finish stuff.

  • Vooch

    First Avenue PBL was beautifully cleared this morning from 80th to 57th, horrible from 48th to 57th

    pleasantly surprised how easy it was to ride in the plowed slush with my 32mm tires, rode mostly in granny gear.

    It was impossible to ride where the PBL was not touched with 32mm, I’m guessing would be perfectly reasonable to ride even in the unplowed PBL with typical Euro style 55mm city tires.

  • Vooch

    My only experience doing business with gov’t is a job about 11 years ago. We built a custom machine for a federal agency.

    Private sector would pay about $1.5 million for this machine.

    Because of all the Gov’t BS and a few bells and whistles, we bid $8 million. At $8 million we were the low bidder.

    The agency which was our customer ended up paying $22 million because they made so many changes during the build process. $22 million instead of $1.5 million – insane

  • Oops

    That all sounds great, except this is a project run by a private developer, not the government agency.

  • Joe R.

    Seriously, the skinny 20mm airless tires I have on my bike cut right through snow and slush. As long as it’s less than a few inches, I can get through. However, I generally don’t ride in this kind of weather. I don’t want to get salt, sand, or dirt in my bike’s moving parts.

    A fun thing about riding in these conditions is spinning the rear wheel when you start moving. Very easy to put enough force on it to break it loose in the lower gears.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The private developer probably has other private projects. And says “work on those first.”

  • Larry Littlefield

    The question is, can I ride my plain old bicycle with its plain old tires on Thurdsay? I’ll give them a pass for Wednesday, as a windchill of 5 to 15 is ridable in January but not in March after 60 degree days.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “We built a custom machine.”

    They were sunk right there.

  • vgXhc

    Eh, it’s not like other countries are immune to this. Probably the worst example in Germany is the new Berlin airport. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Brandenburg_Airport#Delayed_opening_and_construction_flaws

  • Vooch

    you really need to get a true beater bike. 🙂

  • Vooch

    What’s amusing is the custom part wasn’t all that custom, the real cost increases came from the specs changing during the build.

    Another interesting point was the legions of people this agency had running around the project. Auditors, Senior Project Managers, Middle PMs, Junior PMs, Asst’t to the PM, political appointees, plus more levels of engineering staff ‘overseeing’ than we had actually doing the design and details.

    If they paid us $22 million, I suspect this agency spent a equal amount ‘managing’ the project.

  • bolwerk

    It might literally happen with every significant project in NYC recent, recently aborted, or planned: ESA, 10th Avenue on the 7th Train, ARC, PATH WTC, Fulton Street Transit Center, Gateway, PABT42, GWB Bus Terminal, LGA AirTrain, Woodhaven BRT, and even BQX.

  • Oops

    That doesn’t seem like a normal way to manage financial expense in a private business…

  • Larry Littlefield

    The private sector is more efficient.

    Unfortunately one of the things it does efficiently is fleece the government.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I sure saw that with removing old signals, which had asbestos. Eight engineers, consultants, inspectors watching one guy with a power saw.

  • bolwerk

    The assumption that the private sector is more efficient is what allows it to get away with murder,

  • Oops

    Struggling to see anything “efficient” about putting tens of millions of borrowed money that you’re paying interest on for construction on an asset that you’re not moving into revenue production…

  • Vooch

    my plain old bike was fine today for half the 20 block trip.

  • Vooch

    $10 billion for a 30 mile High Speed Rail Tunnel – Swiss actual

    $10 billion for a 2 mile slow speed rail tunnel – Port Authority “estimate”

    and the Swiss pay higher wages

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