Members of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees sat Wednesday, January 20 for a public hearing in Albany on transportation components of Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016. The hearing was the first in a series of 13 required by the State Constitution as part of the process of passing a budget by April 1.
State DOT Commissioner Describes Investments in Infrastructure
Matthew J. Driscoll, Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation, described the Governor's plans to invest heavily in the State's network of roads and bridges in 2016 and later years. Beginning his testimony with a recap of his agency's mission to protect travelers, the Commissioner testified about the Governor's "bold and comprehensive" $22.1 billion investment in New York's roads and bridges.
Investing in Infrastructure to Create Jobs
Specific to State DOT, the Commissioner testified that the Governor's plan includes $20.1 billion to be spent over five years that is intended to enhance the State transportation system's resiliency while creating jobs and delivering record-high levels of resources for transit systems. The Governor's plan also includes $438 million in new funding for local highway and bridge projects; $500 million to help local governments maintain local bridges with another $500 million for State-owned bridges; an equal $1 billion investment in State and local roads; $500 million to improve and "harden" infrastructure threatened by flooding and other extreme weather and $200 million for Upstate commercial and passenger air travel upgrades.
State Motor Vehicles Commissioner: Technology Has Improved Operations
Theresa L. Egan, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the State Department of Motor Vehicles, testified that recent investments in technology have improved the experiences of New Yorkers who are customers of the DMV. The Executive Budget provides $325 million for DMV operations, Commissioner Egan testified.
DMV Commissioner Testifies That Investments in Modernization Have Paid Off
In response to a question I asked about technology investments made by the Legislature in DMV, Commissioner Egan said that funds intended for programs to improve and modernize DMV have been fully implemented or are nearing full implementation. DMV is continuing to improve its' appointment reservation system, she said, and 900,000 reservations have been made to date. The Commissioner described funds invested in this program as "well-spent and well-used."
Replying to a follow-up question that I asked, the Commissioner acknowledged a 24 percent reduction in DMV's workforce during the last 10 years but testified that due to an increased reliance on technology DMV customer service has not suffered as a result of staffing cuts.
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5776 FAX
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus
148 Lafayette Street, 12
New York, NY 10013
Dear Mr. Miller,
I am writing in response to your July 10 article, "Will CB 9 Take Its Cues From a Denny Farrell Rant Against a Safer Broadway?" about a Community Board 9 meeting held Thursday, July 9.
First, I will concede that I may have been wrong or misspoken about the relative safety of Florida's roads and highways and their success in reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities. I will admit that I have never taken the time to study Florida's safety statistics in any great detail. But I have been there, and seen how Florida traffic is routed to left- and right-turn lanes that allow traffic to flow while, apparently, protecting pedestrians.
However, in reading your article, it seems that you may have misheard my "rant" during the meeting, as I certainly do not recall making several of the statements you attributed to me.
And I must challenge your mocking tone in reporting my statement that bicycles are dangerous. Your article omitted my statements about bicycles being silent, and my complaints that bicycles should continually make a warning noise to alert pedestrians when a bicyclist is approaching.
In case you are not aware, less than four hours before July 9's CB9 meeting, a pedestrian was seriously injured by a bicyclist during an incident on First Avenue near West 87th Street.
This did not occur in my District, so I am not fully conversant in all the details, but according to the account published by DNAinfo.com, this senior citizen was crossing the bicycle lane (similar to my "ranting" description) on her way to her car when she was struck and knocked to the pavement by a bicyclist who fled the scene. According to DNAinfo, the pedestrian is in critical condition and the New York Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying and locating the bicyclist.
As you may or may not know, I am a grandfather, and the father of a 10-year-old with whom I often walk the streets of New York, so I am concerned with her safety, my own, and the safety of everyone else whether they are traveling on foot or on wheels.
According to DOT statistics there have been 10 fatalities in this area in the last six years, more than triple the number of serious accidents that occurred on other thoroughfares in the area. The average age of those killed in these accidents is 62, and many of these people lived nearby. In response to these numerous fatalities, it was agreed that the layout of the street must be changed.
DOT's plan, which focuses on the area between 110th and 153rd Streets, would cut the number of travel lanes from three to two in each direction. DOT plans to add dedicated left-turn lanes, widen the existing parking lane and install planter boxes in the pedestrian median. DOT also plans to add left-turn signals at 135th and 145th Streets, where an average of 250 to 300 vehicles attempt to turn off of the boulevard every hour.
Though the speed limit in this area is 30 miles per hour, vehicles have been clocked traveling at up to 39 miles per hour during daylight hours and 52 miles per hour at night, according to DOT.
"It is clear that we must do more to protect the lives of seniors and other pedestrians, as some motorists cannot be trusted to follow the rules with sometimes tragic results," Farrell said.
The developer, George Washington Bridge Bus Station Development Venture LLC, is slated to begin construction before the end of this month. When the project is complete, according to the developer, the revamped terminal will include state-of-the-art technology, new pedestrian and transportation passageways, and also a new shopping center.
While the redevelopment is underway, the Port Authority will adjust pedestrian traffic. Buses will continue their normal route in and out of the terminal, but people getting off the buses will be asked to walk down a new stairway to an exit on West 178th Street.
When complete, the 105,000 square feet that will be redeveloped as retail space will be home to three large stores including a planned supermarket and fitness center, with space set aside for a number of smaller stores and a community space. Construction is scheduled to end in mid-2013.
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5776 FAX
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus
Dear Commissioner Yassky,
I am writing to pass along the concerns of my constituents regarding Mayor Bloomberg's plans to change how New York City regulates street hails of taxi cabs. Many of my constituents feel that Northern Manhattan is being left out of this process of change. However, I understand that a final plan has yet to be reached, and I hope that appropriate accommodations can be made.
The plan at this time, as I understand it, will legalize the widespread but illegal practice of street hails and also allow Manhattan-style taxi service to expand to the outer boroughs.
However, doubts remain about a dual use license provision that is said to be part of these ongoing discussions. It would be truly unfortunate if taxi service operators who serve areas where yellow cabs cannot (or will not) go see their businesses suffer because of this change.
I hope that the revised plan, when a final version is adopted, will not only equalize access to taxi service for all New Yorkers but will also not harm taxi operators who are presently serving areas where yellow cabs are seldom seen, such as my Assembly District.
However, I remain unconvinced that this discussion will have any real effect on the availability of taxi service in Northern Manhattan, considering the historic reluctance of some drivers to pick up fares above 96th Street.
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR
Assemblymember 71st District
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 568-2828
FAX (212) 928-4177
Assemblyman Farrell recently met with Department of Transportation officials to discuss his plan to make part of 157th Street a one-way street between Broadway and Riverside Drive. This should improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety. DOT officials have signed on to Farrell's plan, which will go before Community Board 12 in the fall for their review.
Assemblyman Farrell met with Metropolitan Transportation Authority staff on December 17, 2009 near an eliminated BX 6 bus stop to discuss his proposal to create a replacement stop. The city blamed traffic backups caused by stopped buses for their decision to take away the stop at Macomb's Dam Road and the 155th Street Viaduct during recent road reconstruction. During the December meeting, MTA staff said they would speak with Department of Transportation staff in an effort to bring back the stop, which served the Polo Grounds and Harlem River Houses area.
While he is not opposed to bringing back the BX 6 stop as it was, Assemblyman Farrell told the MTA that he would continue to press forward with a plan to move the eliminated BX 6 stop to an M2 stop nearby, at Macombs Dam Road and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. Traffic backups on the viaduct caused by stopped public transit have been a fact of life in the neighborhood since the days of the trolleys, Farrell said, and moving the BX 6 stop to a place where traffic can navigate around a stopped bus would improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety while remaining convenient for bus riders. In late 2009, Farrell brought his plan to Community Boards 9 and 10 which oversee the area that is under discussion.
Dear Commissioner Forgione,I am writing for two reasons. First I want to thank you and your staff for the rapid response of your Department's removal of the graffiti on both sides of the outer wall on Riverside Drive West between 155th and 160th Streets. Josh Orzak of your office was very helpful in the timely manner in which he resolved the problem. Graffiti is an ongoing dilemma and if not dealt with in a timely manner, it spirals out of control. It would be most helpful if your office would monitor the situation. I have instructed members of my staff to be vigilant and report all abuses to your office as they occur.
The other is to discuss the traffic problems we have at 157th Street and Edward Morgan Place. As you know, 157th Street from Amsterdam to Broadway is a one way street going west. It crosses Broadway and then crosses Edward Morgan Place and ends at Riverside Drive. When you drive north on Broadway along the mall that divides the street and make a left turn from the turning lane cut in the Broadway mall while driving north from 156th Street, you are in a 50 foot long street which connects Broadway to Edward Morgan Place. This section of 157th Street is a three lane eastbound street with one way traffic. It has white painted direction arrows in the lanes. The vehicle in the right lane may turn right onto Edward Morgan Place going north or straight ahead which puts them on 157th Street westbound. This section of 157th Street connects Edward Morgan Place to Riverside Drive. This street is a two way street going east and west. Parking is on the south (eastbound) side of the street. Also, in the section of the roadway between Broadway and Edward Morgan Place, the left lane (westbound) is lined up directly with the eastbound lane from Riverside Drive to Edward Morgan Place. Presently, all cars in the left lane must turn into Edward Morgan Place southbound. The third lane has been turned into a no driving, no parking location and is now blocked off. Part of the problem with this location is that the BX 6, which travels from the Bronx, going east up the 155th Street viaduct and makes a right turn onto Broadway going north. The bus travels to 157th Street along side of the Broadway Mall and goes into a cut-out left turn lane from the mall. It waits for the left signal that controls the north, south, east, west traffic at that location. After making the left, it goes into the right lane of 157th Street between Broadway and Edward Morgan Place which is a short street. The traffic light on Broadway is not always synchronized so the bus may not get the green light necessary to turn from Broadway onto 157th Street and get the green light to go across Edward Morgan Place and onto the continuation of 157th Street westbound to Riverside Drive without having to stop. The recent painting and change of traffic directions is one of many that have been tried over the years as well as the elimination of the right turn on a red light signal at Edward Morgan Place. It leaves cars going westbound hanging into the street which blocks the cars traveling south on Broadway. This also causes pedestrian problems for those crossing Edward Morgan Place.
I am recommending that 157th Street between Broadway and Edward Morgan Place be returned to three functioning lanes. This would allow us to have right turn only in the extreme right lane; the middle lane would go westbound onto 157th Street; and the left lane would turn left onto Edward Morgan Place heading south. Many years ago, this short street was also a two way street. When it was made into a one way street westbound, the usage of the left lane was taken away. This is part of the cause of the vehicle backup going onto Broadway.
I am also recommending that the 157th Street to Riverside Drive be made into a one way street heading westbound. We should still retain restricted parking on the north side and also retain bus stops in their present locations. Cars parked on the south side facing east would become westbound. There is no reason for this street to be a two way street. People coming off of Riverside Drive going north who want to go east would still have the option to turn onto 155th Street and 156th Street (both of which are eastbound). If they wish to go to Edward Morgan Place, they can continue on the inner Riverside Drive to 158th Street and make a right onto Edward Morgan Place. Though 157th Street is two way, it is a standard city street in width. This plan may cut down on the amount of cars driving on the street. Traffic at the intersection would still be congested but not as bad as it presently is. If you created three lanes between Broadway and Edward Morgan, you would allow for more cars to be on the street. In essence, I am recommending that you finish what you started, when you turned that short section into a one way street, and make 157th Street (from Edward Morgan Place to Riverside Drive) into one a way street heading westbound and retain the bus stop in its present location at the top of the street.
I intend to send these recommendations to Community Board 12 and I will be contacting you in the near future to discuss this project and to arrange an on sight meeting with you and your staff. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. Again, thank you for the elimination of the graffiti.
Herman D. Farrell Jr.
Member of Assembly
Every since I was a child, people have complained about the Cross-town Trolley which is now a bus (BX 6) going into the Bronx from Manhattan. The trolley car lasted into the late 1940's. Its route began at Amsterdam Avenue and 155th Street and went down 155th Street. It stopped at the beginning of the viaduct (at 155th Street and Edgecomb Avenue) heading eastbound then stopping in the middle of the viaduct, which was directly above the 8th Avenue elevated train. You could take stairs down to the elevated train or continue down to 8th Avenue and to the Polo Grounds-Home of the Giants Baseball Team. The next stop was at the foot of the viaduct and the intersection of Macombs Dam Road, 7th Avenue Extension (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard), and the entrance to Macombs Dam Bridge. The trolley went across the bridge and turned left at the end of the bridges, which was over the Harlem River and the railroad tracks (eventually passing Yankee Stadium). The left turn was possible because this was before the construction of the Major Deegan Expressway. In those days, problems arose about the 8ft Law. This law stated that no automobile could pass on the right side of a trolley unless there was at least 8ft. between the automobile and trolley on the side in which passengers exited to get to the sidewalk. If there was not sufficient clearance, traffic had to wait until the trolley began to move again. This caused many traffic jams.
We are now well past a half century since trolleys were replaced by buses. Buses now pull to the curb to deposit and collect passengers both to and from the Bronx. Recently, the viaduct was rebuilt and the roadway to the bridge was repaved. When this was done, the construction made no allowance for buses to pull in and out of traffic to discharge passengers. We no longer have the 8th Avenue elevated train or stairs to 8th Avenue (now Frederick Douglass Boulevard). Buses no longer stop there. Now the MTA has decided to eliminate the stop directly before the bridge at 155th Street at the bottom of the viaduct. For people traveling both eastbound to the Bronx and westbound to the west side of Manhattan and live in the vicinity of the Polo Grounds, Harlem River Housing, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, there is not a close location to catch the BX 6. For the aforementioned reasons, I am recommending a solution that will allow the buses heading both eastbound and westbound to include one more stop.
Heading eastbound on 155th Street and the viaduct, the bus would follow the traffic light arrow at the end of the viaduct turning right and would then stop at the M2 bus stop which is on the extension of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (going southbound) and Macombs Dam Road. The bus would then drive half a block to 153rd Street and make a left turn onto 153rd Street. Then take another left turn onto the right lane of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (going northbound) and a right turn onto Macombs Dam Bridge which leads to the Bronx.
Heading Westbound across the bridge on 155th Street, the bus would cross the bridges and stay in the left lane and make a left turn at the traffic light arrow at the end of the bridge (the beginning of the viaduct). It would continue onto Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and stop at the same southbound M2 bus stop that the eastbound bus would stop at (there is enough sidewalk available to make a separate BX 6 stop to avoid confusion using the same eastbound bus stop). It would then go south to 153rd Street and make a left turn into the left lane going north on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. A second left turn would be made just as the eastbound bus makes but this bus would stay in the left lane of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard going north. At 155th Street viaduct, the bus would make a left turn away from the bridge heading up the viaduct.
These changes to the bus route would bring the bus less than 1,200 feet out of the way. These slight changes would make it possible for the BX 6 to be more accessible to many more people in the Harlem community and allow them to go across town to connect to other forms of transportation.
In closing, I have sent this letter to Community Board 10, whose district incorporates the bus stops; Community Board 12 as the bus route begins and ends in their district; The Metropolitan Transit Authority; and Transport Workers Union. I will be contacting you in the near future to discuss the possibility of your supporting and implementing this plan.
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly
At a press conference near 181st Street that was organized after a nearby section of subway ceiling collapsed Sunday night, Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat was joined by representatives of Assemblyman Farrell and other Manhattan officials to inform the public on the city's response to the event. MTA officials said Tuesday that normal service may resume this weekend.
The shower of bricks and debris halted 1 Train service north of 168th Street and hindered subway service at the 181st Street stop and eight other stations. Fortunately, no one was injured during the collapse. Assemblyman Espaillat, in whose district the collapse occurred, demanded that the MTA move immediately to remove the debris and repair the damage, and also to provide free shuttle service to the thousands of commuters left stranded by the service interruption.
"Hearing the growing number of complaints about the state of repair of our subways, I have become concerned about the safety of riders who rely on this service. This event has greatly amplified my concerns, and I will be closely following the MTA's response," Assemblyman Farrell said.
"While thankfully no straphangers were injured in this debacle, crumbling ceilings and weak beams present a horrifying reality for New Yorkers. The MTA faces extraordinary financial challenges, but this is no excuse to allow the subway system to fall into disrepair. New York City, state and MTA leaders must find ways to dedicate money for infrastructure to ensure that this city's great mass transit system is efficient and safe for the millions of people who ride it daily," Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer said.
An MTA service advisory says that, while the collapse stopped service between the 168th Street and Dyckman Street stations in both directions, shuttle train service will run between 242nd Street and Dyckman Street, making all stops, and shuttle buses will run between Dyckman and 168th Streets. Riders can also make a transfer at 168th Street to the M3 bus, MTA said.
Passengers who rely on wheelchairs may take the free shuttle from 168th Street to Dyckman, where the shuttle will continue to make northbound stops as far north as 242nd Street, MTA says. Subway riders who rely on wheelchairs should call (800) 834-1173 to arrange for a shuttle bus.
Because of this stepped-up bus service, buses will have to be removed from routes elsewhere in Manhattan. However, it is believed that the remaining buses on other Manhattan routes will be adequate to meet rider demand, MTA officials said Tuesday, August 18, 2009.
During the repair, which is expected to be finished by this weekend at the earliest, a protective barrier that will cross the track bed and platform near the collapsed area will be built. According to MTA the barrier will be 300 feet long and 32 feet wide and will be mounted on steel beams that will be driven into the ground. Temporary lighting will be installed underneath the barrier.
Coincidentally, funding to pay for reconstruction of the ceiling fašade surrounding the area that collapsed over the weekend was recently approved by the Legislature and design work to fix the ceiling, which is a historic landmark, began in June. This larger restoration project, which MTA says will include work in the 168th Street station, is scheduled to begin construction in 2010.