Quick Clicks> Cul-de-Sack, Talking Transit, Hollywood Project, Park(ing) Police

Daily Clicks
Thursday, September 22, 2011
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Courtsey Ian Lockwood

Cul-de-Sacked. Emily Badger of The Atlantic‘s newly launched Atlantic Cities argued that the cul-de-sacs—the suburban answer to the overcrowded urban grids—may be a dead-end in more ways that one. Badger said cul-de-sacs are responsible for our decreased sense of safety, and moreover, happiness.

Talking Transit. Gothamist is right on calling out New York’s MTA as being “really into technology this month.” In a win for the constantly connected and a potential loss for our already-hectic commutes, starting Tuesday, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers can pull out their cell phones and talk away on underground cell service through the 14th Street corridor. It will take the MTA five years to fully cover the entire New York subway system. Five more years of relative peace-and-quiet.

Paramount Makeover. The LA Times reported that Paramount Pictures is planning a whopping $700-million upgrade to its Hollywood lot, creating nearly 7,300 jobs during construction over next two decades. Rios Clemente Hale Studios and Levin & Associates Architects are charged with improving a place that hasn’t seen much change since the Gary Cooper days without compromising its old Hollywood charm.

Park(ing) police. A Miami-based PARK(ing) Day organizer created a green oasis for the day-long celebration of public space, putting up planters and bringing seats, tables, and WiFi, but according to police, he lingered a little too long. Police arrested the man for taking too long to clean up his parklet the next day, reported Streetsblog.

 

Pictorial> MTA Perseveres through Hurricane Irene

East
Monday, August 29, 2011
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Tree limbs cover tracks in the Bronx. (Courtesy MTA / Leonard Wiggins)

Tree limbs cover tracks in the Bronx. (Courtesy MTA / Leonard Wiggins)

So Hurricane Tropical Storm Irene has come and gone, leaving most of New York City unscathed. It looks like some 700 trees were downed across the city and we’re sure a few patio chairs ran away from home, but luckily for the city, the storm lost its might as it raged toward Gotham. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority prepared for the worst before the storm, shutting down the city’s transit system electively for the first time (the system was also shut down after 9/11 and a power blackout). The agency has released an amazing set of photos of its preparation and cleanup after the storm including dramatic views of an abandoned Grand Central Station, mudslides, and flooded tracks. Take a look after the jump.

View the gallery after the jump.

Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
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High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: “It looks like Scott’s tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!”

Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak‘s coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it’s time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign.

Buffalo’s Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That’s what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley’s hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with “young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work.”

Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country’s oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.

Quick Clicks> Piano, Plazas, Babbling, Budget Cuts

Daily Clicks, East Coast
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
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Updated plans for Columbia's Jerome L. Greene Science Center in Manhattanville (Via NY Observer)

Updated plans for Columbia's Jerome L. Greene Science Center in Manhattanville (Via NY Observer)

Manhattanville’s Piano. While tallying who is the biggest landlord in New York (it’s still the church by a hair), The Observer uncovered a few new views of Renzo Piano’s Jerome L. Green Science Center at Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, seen here next to a train viaduct.

Pedestrianizing New York. The remaking of New York’s public spaces continues its forward march. Brownstoner has details on the planned pedestrian plaza on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and StreetsBlog highlights DOT’s plans to create a permanent block-long Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights.

Archi-babble. Witold Rybczynski talkes issue with architecture’s professional jargon in Slate, including a beginner’s guide to commonly used words from assemblage to gesamtkunstwerk. What’s your favorite word from the language of architecture?

Subway Squeeze. We’re not talking about your crowded commute, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to trim $100 million from transit. Transportation Nation and StreetsBlog have the details and implications for getting around New York.

The Perils of Subway Naming Rights

East
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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Can you see me now? (brettisrael/Flickr)

Our favorite wonky MTA blog has an interesting and funny post about how quickly and easily naming rights on a public transit system can get, in this case down in Philadelphia. While we all know transit systems are in trouble and should probably go about getting money wherever they can—short of more draconian fare increases, let’s hope—it is easy to go too far on the naming rights front, not only into parody but confusion. While it may be a bit unseemly that the MTA tried to charge the Yankees for the rights to have their name at a refurbished 161st stop last year, and that Barclays is actually paying up for the rights in Brooklyn, yet another advertising assault on our public lives. But SEPTA has gone a step further, renaming its Pattison Avenue Terminal to AT&T Station. Unlike the Barclays annoyance, this could be downright confusing because there is no geographical relevance here, nothing AT&T about this station. As another blogger puts it on SAS: “The whole situation raises the frightening prospect in the near future that, instead of riding the Broad Street Subway from City Hall to Pattison, people will take the Coca-Cola Trolley from Pizza Hut to AT&T.”

Some Serious Equipment

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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Tip drill? Sorta—it's the cutter head, which will do all the heavy cutting for the Second Avenue Subway. (Courtesy MTA)

It would appear the Second Avenue Subway is really, truly happening. Not to have doubted all the construction work that’s gone on so far, but we have been-there-done-that about half-a-dozen times over the past century. Now, however, the 200-ton Cutter Head has arrived, the main piece of the Tunnel Boring Machine that will begin carving out the tunnels for the first phase of the new line. The MTA posted some pretty cool pics of the device, including the one above, on its Facebook page. And if that weren’t socially networked enough, there’s a YouTube flick of the thing being lowered underground with a soundtrack that sounds oddly like that of a softcore sex scene in some ’90s movie. Second Avenue Sagas points out that this is largely “symbolic,” as the real challenge, technically and fiscally, is not digging but building the lines and stations. That said, we still wonder if all this money wouldn’t be better spent on maintaining service than pushing ahead with capital projects, even if it does mean their nth death. While you ponder, the flick and more pics after the jump. Read More

Blood on the Tracks

East, East Coast
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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God forbid, but we'll probably be seeing a lot more of this in the near future.

The MTA finally passed its so-called Doomsday Budget today. If this comes as a surprise, well, you’re not the only one taken aback. Last year, the transit authority was in a similar predicament—in part because the Legislature refused to implement congestion pricing but mostly because of the recession. But, as with most things in (at least New York) politics, an eleventh hour deal was brokered and the funds were found to stave off the draconian cuts. We figured that would be the case this time around, especially since the MTA’s new and particularly shrewd boss Jay Walder made all the right cuts that would be politically unpalatable for Albany to keep in place, like, say, Student MetroCards. So then why did they pass? Read More

Lost in Penn Station

East, East Coast
Thursday, March 4, 2010
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Moynihan Station is meant to adress the deplorable architecture of Penn Station, but its greatest fix could be to the confusing signage. (Courtesy NYMag)

With any luck, Moynihan Station will finally get off the ground thanks to last’s months grant of $83 million in stimulus funds. Having gone through what seems like dozens of iterations, it’s unclear exactly what shape the new station will take, but we do have one piece of advice for whatever cabal of designers takes up the massive project: Don’t forget the signs. While no hardened New Yorker would admit to getting lost in Penn’s warren of tunnels and concourses, Slate‘s Julia Turner uses the underground mess as Exhibit-A of bad signage for her series running this week and next about just how important wayfinding is in our increasingly confusing world. As Turner puts it, signage is “is the most useful thing we pay no attention to.” Read More

New and Not So New

East, East Coast
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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Bloomberg (left) and Walder check out a new 7-Train station. Hopefully it won't leak like recent MTA projects. (Courtesy Office of the Mayor)

On a day when the MTA announced that its budget shortfall may now surpass $400 million as last year’s payroll tax is bringing in even less revenue than expected, Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his day underground. He and MTA chief Jay Walder were touring a new station underway at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, the terminus of the underway 7-Train extension. At least during boom times, the project was seen as a boon to residential development on the Far West Side. Now, with construction limited and the MTA in desperate need of money, transit advocates like the Straphanger’s Campaign and the City Council continue to call for tapping capital funds—namely stimulus set-asides—to help cover the gap. And if two recent projects are any indication, maybe that’s not a bad idea. Read More

This Is a Brooklyn-Bound V-Train

East, East Coast
Monday, January 25, 2010
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At least one change in the MTA's proposed service cuts—replacing the M with the V—could actually be a boon, not a bane. (Courtesy 2nd Ave. Sagas)

Sometimes, bad news can be good news. That’s the conclusion we came to when we saw the map above, posted on the MTA-obsessed blog 2nd Ave. Sagas. On Friday, the MTA announced its revised set of Doomsday 2.0 service cuts, which include slightly fewer bus route eliminations and maybe not quite-so-bad service (get the very detailed details on the Sagas blog). But as Gene Russianoff, head of the Straphanger’s Campaign, put it in an email today, “the cuts still stink.” Except for one. Read More

Messrs. Fixit

National
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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All aboard. (Teamsugar.com)

With the loss in yesterday’s Massachusetts special election no doubt hanging heavily over the White House today, the Obama administration can at least take solace in the fact it’s done at least one thing right. Planetizen points us to a Brookings Institution report from Friday that gives the 44th president an A- grade for infrastructure from his first year, meaning there’s still room for improvement (launch an infrastructure bank) but things are generally pretty good (high speed rail, grid upgrades, job creation). Read More

Break On Through

East
Monday, December 21, 2009
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The good news continues for mass transit, as the MTA announced today that the first phase of construction on the extension of the 7 Train has been completed, stretching from 26th to 34th steets, where trains will be housed as they shuttle back-and-forth between the West Side and Flushing, Queens. The Bloomberg administration, which is paying for the $2.1 billion project, put together this nice video to help demonstrate the subterranean, and thus often invisible, work. It’s the kind of stuff New York mag is calling in its annual roundup a reason to love the city: our perseverance on such mighty projects, past falterings be damned. And yet, these are exactly the kinds of capital expenditures some transit advocates are hoping to cut into to stave off the MTA’s budget crunch. Will the next stop be to stop?

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