Tuesday, November 22, 2005

W, and other conquerors...

Source: Harpers.com

Ohio: The Heart of it All!

This sign would truly make me feel Welcome in Ohio. Thanks, teresco.org!

The Second Avenue Subway

As Barbara Streisand said:

Everyone knows that I’m just
Second Hand Rose
From Second Avenue!
From Second Avenue!

And with the new capital plan, she will be able to zoom up from the Bowery to Harlem in a jiffy! I hope we see ground break on this project within Babs' lifetime...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Post Secret?

I gave five Long Island drivers the finger today.

"From Atlantic to Pacific, Gee the Traffic is Terrific!"

They've begun to play non-stop HOLIDAY favorites on New York's 106.7, Lite FM! I'm EXCITED!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


From the Long Island Railroad November 2005 "Keeping Track" Newsletter:

"Did you know?

Every year at this time of year, Raliroads across the northeast struggle with a problem caused by the falling leaves. You see, those falling leaves do more than drift by your window. They also fall on the tracks, are crushed by train wheels, and then deposit a sap-like oily residue that tends to make trains slip when accelerating and slide when braking. We've been able to reduce this condition by equipping trains with wheel slide protection systems, through agressive tree trimmming and the use of various anti-skid products. One such product is Sandite, which was developed and used by railroads in England for the same problem. However, when the leaves combine with light rain, it may require that some trains reduce their speed. So, if your train is being delayed and your crew tells you it's being caused by 'slip-slide conditions' ... now you'll know what they mean, and why it's happening."

Fascinating! But why the plug for Sandite, and its UK provenance?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Road Pricing in Manhattan: Unnecessary!

In today's New York Times, Sewell Chan suggested that "congestion pricing" (as it's currently know in London) may be in the offing for New York City. Mayor Mike: don't look upon your landslide victory as a mandate for de-caring Manhattan. Proposed by the Partnership for New York City (presumably at the behest of Bloomberg), the plan would "charge drivers for entering the most heavily trafficked parts of Manhattan at the busiest times of the day," but would not apply to the West Side Highway or the FDR Drive. (HELLO!? WHAT!? STUPID! BAD IDEA!)

While this may be successful in London and Singapore...and the model may be appropriate for other U.S. cities (e.g., Los Angeles), New York already has sufficient car-curbing measures. We've got bridges and tunnels galore that become downright impassable at during the "congestion" times. In addition, the roads leading into Manhattan (many of which shrink to one or two lanes before approaching a bridge or a tunnel), are already too small to carry more than a reasonable amount of vehicles per minute into the City. The way this program is structured, it seems like it will function more as a way to dole out idling for those who wind up trapped in certain city wards for extended periods of time.

Yes, I admit, it's a little surprising for an anti-trafficist such as myself to be against road-pricing, but the congestion-time driving disincentives in Manhattan are legion anyway. Generally speaking, road pricing makes sense...but it makes less sense IN Manhattan. Between existing congestion on inbound bridges and tunnels, staggering costs of parking, lack of availability of space, and the sorry state of the regional Manhattan-feeding infrastructure, one would have to be fairly desperate to drive into Manhattan during the proposed congetion pricing times anyway. While adding city congestion load costs onto the already breathtaking expenses incurred by most inbound car commuters would likely result in a smaller number of cars driving within Manhattan, it would further isolate the city from its suburbs and the rest of America -- the hand that feeds it! Those who mainatin that Manhattan already has too much of a "car culture" would do well to explore traffic patterns in some of America's other large cities. By comparison, there is nary a "car culture" to speak of in the City.

Is this a veiled red state/blue state battle? Perhaps the congestion surcharge should only be levied against pickup trucks? Against Pennsylvanians? (Why are there so many of them parked in Queens, now that I mention it?) It's un-American to restrict peoples' freedom of movement in their cars through fee-based (class-based?) policies. It's also un-American to impose infrastructural constraints on peoples' freedom of movements in their cars by providing low-quality roads. If there's any road pricing to be done in the region, it should be on the roads that deliver cars into Manhtattan. Most in a terrible state of repair, these roads are in serious need of upgrades and often seem to carry motorists to areas NEAR but not IN Manhattan. Ask any Long Islander what happens to Westbound traffic on the LIE once s/he passes Lefrak City and you'll discover that it most always disappears (well before the final approach to Manhattan the midtown tunnel).

Raise the tolls and create more ring roads surrounding the City, but (to paraphrase William Jennings Bryan) you shall not press upon the tires of motorists this crown of thorns!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Trucks Must Avoid Parkways!

Andrew Brodlieb endured a terrible commute this morning. But the extra 45 minutes gave him time enough to take this picture for our amusement! LOL!

When I first saw this picture, I guessed that the problem in question was at the Long Island Expressway-Cross Island Parkway multiplex (Exit 31 of I-495). But I was WRONG!

Deep in the heart of Moses territory (near Babylon and Jericho hahaha), Andrew was travelling on the Northern State Parkway, where "Exit 31" is Glen Cove Road, and "Exit 31A" is the Meadowbrook State Parkway. An area fraught with peril for non-local truck drivers searching for the Interstate, who knows what might cause such lapses in judgement? Though truckers have no business approaching either of these roads, perhaps the giddy anticipation of a county-wide conversion to the metric system (Nassau's only metric signage can be found at the Glen Cove Road exit of the NSP) was enough to confuse the trucker involved in this accident. Or maybe he had just had a "truckers' breakfast" at the Seacrest Diner?

Even though many paranoid, neurotic area mothers who don't drive SUVs are greatful, I suspect most NY-area truckers still rue the day RM created our parkway system.

Commuter Poetry

4 crates of pitas in plasticwrap sit beside the entrance to Colbeh
Dewing in the morning mist, are these victims crying?
A Home-Depot-Expo-style brook babbles beside the crates
"It's ok," says the stream, "your owner will claim and stuff you soon!"

3 left turns out of the upper lot
Flummoxed commuters can't find parking

Lumbering into the station 38 seconds late
It makes the terrifying sound of Captain Morpheus' Nebudchanezzar
Should I get on?

The train is a lavatory veiled thinly with cheap fragrances
"Uy I caahn't stajjnd it! Voh veh loh!"

I'm still craving falafel.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Peace Bridge Overkill?

Up in Buffalo, they're proposing a number of designs for the expansion of the Peace Bridge, connecting Buffalo with Fort Erie, Ontario. The new proposed spans, though bold and beautiful, IMHO seem a bit overwrought. Even if the bridge is meant to symbolize the strong, enmeshed, thoroughgoing connection between the U.S. and Canada, the existing slag heap (pictured in many of the proposals) cheapens the entire experience, like a trunk-full of smuggled prescription drugs.

Friday, November 04, 2005


A gantz bargain at $2.9 billion, the New York State Transportation Bond Act promises a myriad of desperately-needed transportation improvements for the NY Metro area (with a capital, "M")! Some of these include: a Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access for the LIRR to Grand Central Station, and even installation of fiber optic lines along Interstate 390 -- see Buffalo?, there's pork for you too!!!

In addition to public transporation improvements, as we are all painfully aware, "Nearly 70% of major roads in the New York metropolitan area are in sub-standard condition. Many of the state’s heavily traveled roads are deteriorating and in need of repair." I'll say!

Here's what WE get:
New York City
$171 million to make operational improvements to the Kew Gardens Interchange, which links the Van Wyck Expressway (Interstate 678), Jackie Robinson Parkway, and Grand Central Parkway in Queens, Queens County. Work will include improvements to the Van Wyck Expressway in the vicinity of the interchange.

Down with the Tsoris Multiplex: I can get behind that!

Lower Hudson Valley
$60.6 million for completion of the last in a series of operational and safety improvements on Interstate 287/The Cross Westchester Expressway, which connects the Tappan Zee Bridge with Interstate 95. The project will run from Greenburgh into the City of White Plains, Westchester County.

Hmmm... Yeah, that and how about a few more exits on 287 before the TZB!? Are there so few people in the surrounding towns that there's no need for an exit? Isn't the minimum population necessary for an Interstate exit 60,000?

Then there's this:
Nassau and Suffolk Counties
$110 million to reduce truck congestion on Long Island and to improve rail freight access on Long Island.

Well, yeah, whatever...let's not look our LIE gift horse in the mouth.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Jackson's Thong

Doing some research for Ben, I discovered that the road archs found at the intersection of Interstates 55 and 20 (in Jackson, MS) are incredibly reminiscent of women's underwear! Don't you agree?

Hammurabi's Code in Vegas?

"Thursday November 3, 2005 8:31 PM

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has suggested that those who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television....`You know, we have a beautiful highway landscaping redevelopment in our downtown. We have desert tortoises and beautiful paintings of flora and fauna. These punks come along and deface it.'"

LV does, indeed, have beautiful highway landscaping -- paving, too -- which allows cars to travel in excess of 90 MPH wihtout hesitation, within mere feet of "The Strip." Yet withal, severing thumbs sounds like an extreme measure. Perhaps Mayor Goodman can take a lesson from Long Island highway authorities, whose latest warning sign campaign reads something like, "Don't Litter: it wastes 1.2 million of your tax dollars per year." Before you sever their digits, try merely hitting 'em where it hurts: in the wallet!