Today’s Headlines

  • Congressional Leaders Call Obama Infrastructure Plan Surprise, Unclear on Details (Transpo Nation)
  • GOP Opposition Could Doom Obama Infrastructure Plan From Start (WNYC)
  • Padernacht Throws Support to Rivera, Unifying Challenge to Espada (NYT)
  • The Circus Is in Town: MTA Fare Hike Hearings Start Monday (MTR)
  • Poll: NYC Cabbies Most Reckless in Nation (News)
  • What a Fully-Funded Regional Transportation System Would Look Like (News)
  • Access-A-Ride Driver Runs Over Roosevelt Island Man in Wheelchair (Gothamist)
  • Stadium Constructions Remain Rip-Off Generations Later (NYT)
  • DOT’s “You The Man” App Fights Drunk Driving With Humor (News)
  • “No Cell, No Song/Low Talk/In Peace We Travel/Arrive Calm” – Poetry of NJTransit’s Quiet Cars (NYT)
  • West Vancouver Introduces Creepiest Traffic Calming Device (Discovery Magazine)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Good Morningside

    DOT installed two large speed humps on 123rd Street between Amsterdam and Morningside Avenue, adjacent to the entrance to a few schools on the north side and the entrance to Morningside Park on the south side. They put up 15mph signs on the street too. Pretty cool to see real traffic calming like that. Last night I heard a few cars scrape their exhaust systems on them – they’ll be more careful next time.

    A crosswalk with a big yield to pedestrian sign in between the two humps would be a perfect next step.

    Thanks to DOT for getting this installed right before the school year starts!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps it isn’t the stadiums that are ripoffs.

    Giants Stadium was opened for the 1976 season and abandoned after 33 seasons in 2009. So they will be paying it off for another 30 years? What happened?

    What happened is that the people living in NJ over the past 33 years want to have things they didn’t want to pay for. During that entire time, NJ’s total tax burden was far lower than NY. So NJ re-borrowed. NY too. And the U.S., which has raised taxes to build up a trust fund for Social Security, and then spent the money.

    Same with Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia. Both the Eagles AND the Phillies played there for more than 30 years, and the stadium hosted a wide range of other events as well. So how come the bonds were not paid off?

    A stadium with 30 year leases and 30 year bonds, without selfish people stealing from future generations, should not be a problem. That’s the real story, just as in the Chicago parking deal.

    We won’t even get into 55 year olds refinancing their nearly paid off mortgages to take cruises and buy Hummers over the past few years, and now requiring bailouts.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Just to follow up, because the household-side madness was less in New York than in other places, I’m not sure everyone on this blog understands exactly what went on in the “equity liberation” era.

    Here’s a recent summary:

    http://www.realestatechannel.com/us-markets/residential-real-estate-1/housing-bubble-home-equity-lines-of-credit-heloc-second-mortage-lien-holders-home-foreclosures-bank-failures-the-new-york-times-keith-jurow-3122.php

    The following situation, described on the advice blog, bills.com in November 2009, is quite common in California:

    “I purchased my home in CA for $300K. I then refinanced in 2001 and pulled money out for upgrading the home – new home loan $480K. I refinanced again for a better interest rate (non-adjustable). In 2006, I opened a home equity line of credit to upgrade again (build a pool, etc.). My home equity line of credit is now at $248K. Total loans on home are today about $718K. I am in good standing with loan modification with the first but cannot afford to pay home equity line of credit.”

    “A sadder situation described on the same blog is that of a 62 year old California homeowner who purchased his house in 1975 for $38,000. He refinanced “3-4 times over the years” mainly for “personal use – cars, etc.” The first lien is now $365,000. He opened the HELOC seven years ago and continually tapped into it. The outstanding balance on it had climbed to $265,000. Because the condo had plunged in value to only $350,000, this homeowner stopped making payments on the first mortgage four months earlier.”

    Personal use, cars etc. No wonder car sales are tanking now that cash for clunkers has run its course. And I have read that used car prices are up 20 percent, as older vehicles wear out, people can’t afford new, and they “can’t” live without one car per adult in the places they are. And since they can’t sell their houses, they can’t move either.

  • Larry, to hear tell from some commenters here, what you’ve described is “the way people prefer to live.”

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Larry, to hear tell from some commenters here, what you’ve described is “the way people prefer to live.”

    Looking at the data and reading every day, I get the feeling they are changing their minds en masse, but they are trapped and don’t see the alternative. And in fact, economically viable, tolerable crime, decent school, low-car dependency neighborhoods have become so scarce in the U.S. that most people can’t afford them.

    The debt overhang overwhelms most other issues. It’s why the economy can’t recover what it had been, because it was based on the kind of behavior outlined above.

  • As this astute blog post points out, it’s not the housing market, it’s the land market, and the only land that’s actually worth anything is land that enjoys access to economic opportunities.

    That would be land in cities, and only certain cities at that.

  • Hi Noah
    Off topic but thought you and your readers might be interested…
    http://blogs.plos.org/obesitypanacea/2010/09/07/do-the-health-benefits-of-cycling-outweigh-the-risks/

  • Larry Littlefield

    I liked the article, and do feel more threatened by obesity than traffic.

    Here’s something I just came across.

    http://blogs.marketwatch.com/election/2010/09/07/south-dakota-congressional-foes-drive-each-other-crazy/

    “Speeding on near-empty highways is quite common in a big state known for wide-open spaces. South Dakota Republican Kristi Noem, however, has come under fire after the disclosure that she’s racked up 20 speeding tickets since 1989. In two cases she was so late to pay her fines that warrants, later dismissed, were put out for her arrest.”

    “The news has slowed Noem’s momentum after she built an early lead over incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Democrat and the state’s only member of Congress. Sandlin has hammered Noem over her driving record to give her a seeming bounce in the polls.”

  • @Good Morningside: Thanks for the encouraging news about the speed humps and the 15 mph signs. Can you snap a few pics (esp’ly of the signs, hopefully with some context indicating the school zone) and send to me at kea@igc.org? Thanks!

  • …and don’t forget to upload them to the Streetsblog Flickr pool.

  • Einztine

    I’m so happy that the MTA will start the fare hike hearings the day before the primaries. Even though most elected officials will point their fingers at the MTA for this, the threat of a fire hike will still leave a bitter taste in voters’ mouths right before going to the polls. That’s the best place they can relieve their anger.