Category Archives: Infrastructure

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.

New York City and Disability Infrastructure

New York City’s disabled are fighting for better wheelchair access on the streets. As such, they will participate in the third annual Disability Pride Parade. Problematic issues include: the subway (only 25% of 472 stations are wheelchair accessible); elevators in general (fix problematic ones, maintain existing ones and build new ones, while updating info on new app); fix and improve Access-A-Ride (which enables disabled users to get rides without making reservations/shared rides and is cheaper); continue to improve on cab-wheelchair accessibility (which is due to be halved in the next 2 ½ years) and more.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom.  According to the recently published Performing Disability. Dance. Artistry report, found that:

“the dance makers found New York City newly brimming with opportunity for disability arts, spurred in part by a growing advocacy movement, engaged government leadership, an expanding pool of interested funders, and effective promotion and program development furthered by Dance/NYC and partners such as Disability/Arts/NYC Task Force.”

However, there is still much work to be done since the report also found that:

“participants experienced significant barriers to successful performances, from inaccessible facilities and transportation options to extreme financial demands placed on disabled touring artists and subtleties of audience engagement.”

Moving to Manhattan

While people often steer clear from New York City and its environs for business headquarters, that might be changing.  One example is Discovery Communications, a Maryland-based operation that will be moving to Manhattan in the latter part of 2019. Having just signed on a new transaction (the purchase of Scripps Networks Interactive for $12 billion) it is seemingly now taking its business to the next level by centralizing its headquarters.

And it’s not just businesses.  Leisure is getting an upgrade too with the new Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan is looking to become one of the top summer destination spots for locals and visitors alike. The reason Executive Chef at Heinken Riverdeck David Kornell set up shop there was because he had an idea about all the people docking from the boats and ships and figured it would make a great choice for a global menu.

Right now the rest of Pier 17 remains under construction but it won’t be long until its graced with a variety of eateries and stores, including one by David Chang (founder of Momofuku) and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s food hall.

 

 

 

NYC’s Digitalized Evolution

A century ago, one of the things New York City had a good reputation for was its infrastructure.  Just looking at its water tunneling and reservoir systems, one could immediately tell that there was good, solid work done on the city’s infrastructure. At the time, that was very important to quality of life and popularity of such a large, cosmopolitan city.

But the 21st century changed the way we look at infrastructure and it is unclear as to how much NYC changed with it.  Due to digitalization of the economy, building infrastructure is not the big name, but rather data infrastructure is.  And it appears that NYC is not keeping up with its Silicon Valley counterparts.

When it comes to business and corporations, New York has it all.  It gets mentioned in Fortune 500 and Forbes articles and is a hub for business development.  But when you look at the start-up industry it seems like it is just not “all that” and when comparing it to Silicon Valley it has almost been an embarrassment.

It is not all doom and gloom though.  Things do seem to be changing with their up-and-coming firms which are taking quite a chunk of the market share.  In addition there is an increasing number of startups with core technological aspects which are focused on the creation and development of enterprise infrastructure and apps that have traditionally been lacking so much in the area. And thus authors of this article believe that there is now a “changing exit environment for startups in NYC, the rise of a set of mafias which are incubating startups, and the changing culture of customers and how that is assisting NYC startups with their competition out west.”