Category Archives: Infrastructure

JFK’s New International Terminal

A revision to the agreement the Port Authority of New York and New has with JFK Millennium Partners has been made.  This will culminate in the building of a top of the line new international Terminal 6, anchoring the airport’s northside.

While the project was meant to begin last year, due to COVID-19 air travel restrictions it was postponed.  Since then there has been some restructuring which is a positive step in the ambitious JFK transformation.

Governor Cuomo explained:

“The transformation of JFK Airport into a world-class gateway is another distinct testament to New York’s comeback and to our determination to build back better. This historic private investment will not only fortify New York’s reputation as our nation’s front door to the world, but also sets an example for how this country can tackle bold infrastructure projects that will jumpstart our economy with thousands of good-paying jobs even amid profound challenges like the pandemic.” 

The terminal will connect to Terminal 5 and be able to hold 10 new gates, check-in halls, arrival spaces and more, all designed to enhance customer experience.

Electric Power Growth

There has been such expansive growth in the electric power industry.  When it was first used in NYC around 150 years ago, it was on a very minuscule scale.  In the past ten years alone demand has grown by almost a third.  It is anticipated that it will increase a further 50 percent within the next 29 years.

With this figure though, over a third will be with the use of renewable energy.  Professional hackers are taking advantage of supply chains (which includes the energy grid) for their criminal activity which has resulted in US policymakers establishing programs to facilitate the creation of enhanced cybersecurity in power utility firms.

Now, there are plans for New York to explore the possible use of green hydrogen to be used as part of the comprehensive decarbonization strategy. As such, the state of New York has entered into a partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the endeavor of which will make available $12.5m in funding for long duration energy storage techniques and demonstration projects potentially using green hydrogen.

The New York Power Authority is also working with the Electric Power Research Institute, General Electric and Airgas (a hydrogen supplier) to take a NYPA natural gas plant demonstration project, that will evaluate the possible usage in displacing fossil fuels from power generation. Peer-reviewed results will then be shared with the industry and public so that key findings can inform decarbonization efforts.

New York should be proud of this effort.  As Governor Cuomo said:

“New York is leading the way forward on protecting the environment and combating climate change. Part of our ongoing efforts is setting an example for other states and nations to follow. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we are exploring every resource available as a potential tool to address climate change and documenting what we find to share as part of broader national and global conversations so we can build a brighter, greener future for all.”

Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program

If approved by the New York City Council, the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program will potentially put an end to dangerous motorists.  Any vehicle that gets at 15 local speed camera tickets or five red light camera tickets within the space of the year will be penalized by having to sign up for a driver safety course.  Failing to do so will result in their vehicle being impounded.

Currently, drivers who receive automated camera tickets do not thereafter get points on their license.  With this Bill, increased accountability will be put in place.  According to sponsor of the Bill, Council Brad Lander:

“We’ve done a lot of work to try to address the carnage that were too often see on our streets. We’re focusing on the most reckless drivers based on this camera data that we have. Nobody else in the country is doing it and the responsibility to do it in a smart way that works is high. I’d like to say let’s take everybody’s car away and then no one would get killed in traffic crashes. We hit the spot we believe that the program can be and will be run effectively.”

 New York has long been an area where laws are implemented to enhance driver, passenger and pedestrian safety.  For example, in 2001 New York was the first state to outlaw the use of cellphones while driving. But with constant fluctuations in infrastructure, building works and mass congestion there are always issues with keeping New Yorkers on the road safe. This new Bill could make some dents in that issue.

Enhancements to Local Landscape

The de Blasio office is attempting to diversify public art in the region.  One example of the endeavors being made in this sphere is the honoring of the Seneca Village property owners and educators – the Lyons family. 

A little bit of history: Back in the 1850s, an entire community was forced out of the Seneca Village neighborhood in order to create Central Park.  The majority of that community was black.  Now, NYC is planning to fund a private monument to honor this family that has roots that go back to that time.

One Upper East Side local, Jerry Montagu said the following:

“This is the right thing to do.  Sure – with 20/20 hindsight we see that Central Park was of course needed – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that an entire village was essentially wiped out.  It’s about time something was done to show respect.”

It will be an historical lesson as well.  As semi-retired landscape artist Moshe Victor Keinig pointed out:

“One of the most important contributions to a spectacular landscape is really, its history.  This new effort from de Blasio and his team is really an opportunity to right a wrong and to educate the people of New York.”

It is very often the case that people are completely unaware of their own history and what lies under the surface upon which they walk.  Keinig added:

“This is a great start for New York, its history and its future.  Let’s just hope that de Blasio and his people are regarding this as a first step in proper restoration.”

Local Infrastructure News

Large states like New York are in constant need of financial infusions for renovating its infrastructure.  In this article we look at a few of the issues currently taking place.

We start with some good news and that is the $3m that municipalities are going to be able to access for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles and the infrastructure needed for them.  This donation is thanks to the Department of Environmental Conservation and features substantial vehicle rebates as well as large infrastructure grants for the installation of hydrogen filling station components and charging stations for electric vehicles.

Earlier this month an endeavor began to ban the use of private vehicles on one of the busiest streets in Manhattan – 14th Street – between 6am and 10pm every day.  During those hours the only vehicles that would be permitted to drive between Third and Ninth Avenues would be buses, trucks and emergency vehicles.   This endeavor is part of a larger plan to reduce the dependence New Yorkers have on their personal vehicles and facilitate the route of M.T.A. buses.

There is also work being done to improve cellular coverage in the New York area, in particular upstate.   According to Governor Cuomo:

“Every New Yorker should be able to access a stable cell connection, yet our upstate regions have struggled for too long to make the connections that are vital to everyday life and commerce. Today we’re leading the way forward by establishing a task force of cellular service experts, elected representatives and environmental advocates who will develop concrete policies and help to ensure service is provided and infrastructure for it is built in a sustainable way.”

This is a very important measure since without strong cellular network coverage, the economy is potentially hindered, while communications and safety also take a hit.  This is very important for all states but in particular New York which 4 years ago launched a $500m New NY Broadband Program in an effort to generate high-speed Internet for New Yorkers.

NYC Taxi Drivers: Government Bailout

The government needs to devise a plan to bail out New York taxi drivers.  That is, according to Bronx and Queens Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is pushing for a financial rescue plan to be made available for the thousands of drivers manipulated into less than legitimate loans.  At a recent congressional hearing about lending, she said:

“This is manufactured financial indentured servitude. And it is wrong. We need to bail out these drivers.”

Other Democrat representatives in New York – Nydia Velázquez and Carolyn B. Maloney – supported the words of Ocasio-Cortez.  There are also issues with New Yorkers trying to make more money by driving an Uber.  their hopes of supplementing their incomes have been dashed due to crippling car leasing fees – $500 weekly for a Lincoln with 30,000 miles on it.  One individual drove like this for three years working for Uber. His work days lasted 16 hours and he had already paid $78,000 for this “privilege.” when American Lease would not relinquish the car’s title, he quit.

Perhaps individuals like Velázquez, Maloney and Ocasio-Cortez can make this their next project.

Cheaper Commutes? Yes Please!

One of the many complaints of New York living/working is the expense.  Accommodation, office space, taxes – these are just some of the reasons for the oppressive expenditure people encounter.

So it was thrilling for the author of this blog to learn about the cashless tolls that will soon be placed on the New York and New Jersey crossings.  Recently approved by the Port Authority, there is now dedicated money being put toward the tolling equipment construction needs.  The estimated costs are:

  1. George Washington Bridge – $89m
  2. Lincoln Tunnel – $60m
  3. Holland Tunnel – $60m.

There is a lot of work to be done for this:  the construction and mounting of toll readers and cameras; alteration of approach roads; deconstruction of the current toll plazas.

It is hoped that the system will be in operation by 2021, in conjunction with the MTA’s congestion pricing.

E-Scooters Arrive in New York

Finally the state of New York is granting to permission for electric scooter-sharing companies to operate in certain areas.  Initially accepted by Albany (which has come to an agreement to remove the ban), the next step is for Governor Andrew Cuomo to legalize it for the rest of the state.

This new policy will have its limits. First, cities in New York will have the option to say yes or no to this so that localities will allow to make the decision themselves on how the vehicles are operated etc.  Although the e-vehicles will be legal throughout the state, municipalities will have to give the last word on allowing a sharing service before it is launched. 

All of this however does not apply to one borough – Manhattan – at least for now.  those in that borough will have to continue to use: their own bikes, buses, cars, the Roosevelt Island Tram, the infamous subway system and taxis.

Getting Around in New York City

Transportation issues in New York City are nothing new.  Parking is horrendous; driving is awful and the subway has never gotten the best rep.  But now a recent report has found that approximately one third of New Yorkers do not even live within walking distance of a subway stop.  Plus, this issue seems to fall overwhelmingly within lower-income concentrated neighborhoods like Brooklyn and northeast Queens.

NYC’s transportation problem is not limited to the subway.  Dockless bike and scooter firm Lime also commissioned a study and its conclusions were similar in that again it is the poorest neighborhoods taking the fall for lack of viable transportation options.  With Lime, Bird has been lobbying officials in the city to improve micromobility.  And Lime is arguing that if e-scooters became legal, this would improve the mobility of 1.5 million New Yorkers, providing them with much better access to local transit.  With a scooter, they could actually be a mere 10 minutes away from subway stations.

There have been some strides though in this area.  In 2018 an endeavor was taken by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to introduce a dockless bike share program in underserved areas via Citi Bike.

And in other transportation news for the city, we are about to witness the end of the MetroCard.  Plans from the MTA include the testing of a new fare payment system, dubbed OMNY – One Metro New York in an effort to enable New Yorkers to “experience all that the region offers.

New York Transit System: Who Will Pay?

NYC Transit

The New York transit system has been in need of an overhaul for some time now.  to fix it however, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is short of around $60 billion.  that figure is actually twice of its current capital plan and so the question becomes what will happen with the much-needed renovations?

a commission has been set up to take this to the next level. chaired by head of the business-backed Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde, the group commissioned a report that – surprise, surprise – requested more revenue.  Most of the commissioners (who also include former City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Vierito), suggested a kind of toll to be applied to truck and car drivers going into Manhattan below 60th Street causing congestion.  this would actually raise $1b+ annually. 

Although this situation is hardly new.  going back a decade ago now, a 2008 commission was set up that recommended MTA funding sources.  that resulted in the 2009 payroll tax.  since then 10 percent of MTA’s $16.7 billion budget comes from New York downstate employees indirect tax.

So what is new?  The most recent report gave a whole slew of suggestions, one of which was to “acknowledge that the M.T.A. construct has failed and call for its dissolution.”  should that not be acceptable, another way to increase efficiency that was suggested was to hire an independent auditor to investigate capital costs of the MTA and thereafter reform its methods and streamline how orders are changed during the construction process.  in addition, there is a lot of money lost in fare evasion each year.  stamp down on that and you’ve gotten yourself $125 million extra annually.

These are just some of the 37 suggestions featured in the report. It’s definitely worth a try.