Winter 2003, p.16


New Jersey
NJ Pedestrians Told to Wave Flags

Keep Middlesex Moving (KMM), the New Brunswick based nonprofit transportation management association serving Middlesex and Monmouth counties, has placed orange flags for pedestrians to wave at dangerous intersections in South Plainfield. "The Crosswalk Flag Program, which is available to communities for free, uses bright orange flags to increase pedestrian visibility at crosswalks and intersections," said Cristina Fowler, marketing manager for KMM. "The program, funded through a grant from the NJ DOT and the Federal Highway Administration, is especially helpful to seniors and children, who may not cross the street as quickly as needed." The Crosswalk Flags Program is patterned after a flag program used in Salt Lake City, Utah, prior to the Olympics.

Much-Hated Goethals Twin Postponed
Short on money because of the WTC disaster, the Port Authority has postponed building a new $345 million bridge between Staten Island and New Jersey alongside the Goethals Bridge. The public, SI elected officials and transportation watchdog groups have all heavily criticized the plan to "twin" the Goethals; they view it as a boondoggle that will pour a torrent of new traffic into the already traffic clogged South Shore of Staten Island. Despite this opposition, the Port Authority already has $5 million currently earmarked for an environmental impact study and is moving forward with preliminary design work.

WTC PATH Station To Reopen in December
Along with so many other things lost on 9/11 was the PATH train station at the World Trade Center, which served 30,000 New Jersey commuters a day. Now the Port Authority has announced that, having completed $500 million of work clearing and repairing the flooded tube under the Hudson River and building new track connections, it will reopen the temporary World Trade Center site station in December. The temporary station will be roofed, but not fully enclosed or heated, and will serve until the new downtown transit center is built, sometime in the next decade.

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PATH to Take MetroCard Starting in 2004
For decades, transportation planners have yearned for a regional transit pass. That dream became more real in February when the Port Authority announced that the MTA's MetroCard swipe card will work at PATH train turnstiles starting in 2004. The big beneficiaries are New Jersey commuters who take the PATH train to Manhattan and transfer to the subway or bus. Not yet known is whether the Port and MTA are willing to offer PATH riders discounts or create a system that allows riders to pay just one fare.

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New York
NY State Bridge Authority Corrects Stupidity

The NY State Bridge Authority has reopened all the bike/pedestrian walkways over its Hudson River crossings that it had closed in response to the national "orange alert" for possible terrorism. The Bridge Authority is a state entity that runs the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff and Rip Van Winkle bridges over the Hudson River. The Authority told the Tri-State Transportation Campaign that it is not inspecting trucks crossing the bridges. To their credit, the NYC DOT, the MTA and the Port Authority have maintained bike and pedestrian access to the bridges in and around New York City since September 11, 2001, regardless of terror alert levels.

Forgotten Bklyn Mega Project Stirring
The rebuilding of the State DOT's crumbling 4 mile long Gowanus Expressway in West Brooklyn has been overshadowed by the rebirth of Lower Manhattan, fare hikes and the MTA budget deficit. But the massive and complicated effort has produced one of the most interesting community planning efforts underway in New York. Thanks to a legal settlement, community groups have gotten state and federal funding for their own top notch technical advisory team, headed by the firm of Hatch Mott MacDonald. With the expert help, local groups have sifted through thirteen rebuilding alternatives ranging from a tunnel to a mammoth new double-decker elevated structure.

As a member of the Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition, T.A. has advocated for serious consideration of the tunnel plan. Though more expensive to build, a tunnel is cheaper in the long run because of lower maintenance costs and a long life span. Elevated highways must be totally rebuilt every 50 years.

Price estimates for a new Gowanus highway have soared; an elevated structure is projected to cost $2 billion and a tunnel $7.5 billion. Given the dire financial straits of the state and city, and the soaring federal budget deficit, it is not clear where this money will come from. A Final Environmental Impact Study for the project is expected in June 2005.

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