Winter 2004, p.19

Metropolitan

NJ Lawmakers Fine Cell Phones Violators and Tighten Drunk Driving LawsNew Jersey
NJ Lawmakers Fine Cell Phones Violators and Tighten Drunk Driving Laws
New Jersey legislators wrapping up the post-election lame duck session tightened several traffic safety laws. The law makers established $250 fines for drivers who commit moving violations while talking on a hand-held cell phone. The legislature also finally adopted the federal .08 blood alcohol limit as the threshold for drunk driving; the federal government adopted the standard in 1998. New Jersey has foregone several million dollars in federal aid each year since 1998 because of its failure to act.

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Gov’s Construction Zone Speed CamsNew York State
Gov’s Construction Zone Speed Cams

Buried in this year’s mammoth $100 billion state budget is a proposal by Governor Pataki to place speed enforcement cameras alongside highway construction zones. The cameras are budgeted to raise $33 million a year from 300,000 summonses. According to the governor’s office, 40 people have been killed and 1,700 injured in construction zones during the last three years. Both the state senate and assembly leadership have blasted the cameras and raised concerns about the privacy of dangerous drivers speeding through construction safety zones.

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$2 Billion WTC Train Station Plan Wins PraiseNew York City Mega Projects
$2 Billion WTC Train Station Plan Wins Praise

Architecture critics are using words like “spectacular” to describe Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s plan for the World Trade Center site’s new PATH commuter terminal. The station, which Calatrava designed to mimic the outstretched wings of a bird, is slated to open in 2009 and link 250,000 daily transit riders to 14 subway lines and ferry service. When completed, it will feature 60-foot see-through canopies and a movable roof that will open to the sky every year on September 11.

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2nd Ave Subway Rolling by 2012?2nd Ave Subway Rolling by 2012?
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it could have part of the Second Avenue subway running by 2012. The inside word is that the MTA wants to start the project by building stops at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets first. Trains then would curve west to 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue and south on express tracks underneath Broadway. The full length 2nd Avenue subway is intended to run 8 miles, from 125th Street to the southern tip of Manhattan, and cost nearly $17 billion.

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Making the Land Use Transportation Connection in BrooklynMaking the Land Use Transportation Connection in Brooklyn
A bevy of planned zoning changes and development projects in and near Downtown Brooklyn have leapt to the front of the city’s civic debate, propelled by concerns that the projects will swamp the area’s transit system and streets unless the City conducts thorough transportation planning. The biggest initiative is City Hall’s planned upzoning of Downtown Brooklyn, which will allow 14 million square feet of new office space in addition to the estimated 25 million square feet of new office, residential and commercial space already planned or underway. The rezoning would allow the equivalent of a new Downtown San Diego to sprout within Downtown Brooklyn.

And just a few blocks away, mega-developer Bruce Ratner has proposed a $2.5 billion new arena for the NBA Nets and residential housing towers at the Long Island Railroad’s Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights at the intersection of Flat-
bush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. Ratner seeks $150 million in City and State infrastructure work, including moving the tracks and utility lines in the area and building new streets and sewer lines.

Not far away in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a proposed Ikea super-store is going through a comprehensive environmental review because it will add 400 parking spaces, 50,000 car trips a week and three million visitors a year to an area poorly served by public transit.


Long Island and Westchester Suburban Bus Systems in CrisisLong Island and Westchester
Suburban Bus Systems in Crisis

According to transit experts, the bus systems for Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties are in crisis after five years of harsh reductions in subsidies by county executives. Add in the subsidized private bus fleets in Queens, which the mayor intends to stop supporting in 2005, and the regional picture for bus service is bleak. Emblematic of the situation is Long Island Bus of Nassau County, which is part of the MTA, though subsidized by the county. The company is considered to have excellent management and has accommodated sharply increased ridership while seeing its county operating subsidies cut from $26 million in 1999 to $8 million in 2003. But Long Island Bus can take no more. It has raised fares and chopped service to the bone. So if the counties refuse, who will pay for suburban bus service? The MTA? Where is the money to come from? Stay tuned.

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