November/December 1998, p.9

Metropolitan

A Thing of Beauty
In an effort to be pedestrian friendly, the City of Hoboken succeeded in opting out of New Jersey's "Residential Site Improvement Standards," which mandate the parking lots and garages that invite autos into city centers. The Hudson River-side town's unique and historic character are preserved by the availability of mass transit, and sound planning by Hoboken Mayor Russo, who wants stringent controls on future parking space creation. The city received an exemption along with Harding and Long Branch.

Election Year Bonus Points
Governor Pataki and Amtrak announced a joint investment of $185 million in Amtrak's Empire Corridor over the next five years. The funds will improve infrastructure and passenger service between New York City, Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany with high speed trains. The program will also address immediate needs like construction of a second track between Albany and Schenectady, upgrading a Hudson river rail bridge, improving curved track sections and maintenance facilities. The state's contribution to the project is supported by Federal TEA-21 allocations.
Also announced by Governor Pataki, the Port Authority will spend $23 million on Staten Island's Howland Hook Container Terminal, which now handles 10% of the NY/NJ port's container traffic. Some 65% of the funds will go across the river for a freight rail connection in Union County, NJ that would give Howland Hook cargo access to the North-South Chemical Coast Line.

Just Drop It
After three years of ardent local opposition, the Port Authority is still pushing its plan to build a new twin highway bridge alongside the Goethals Bridge between Elizabeth, NJ and Staten Island. Estimates show the new span would draw additional traffic onto I-278 and further clog the S.I. Expressway. Area environmentalists also oppose the project in the interest of protecting the Pine Oak Woods and Arthur Kill habitats.

Stop the Madness
In light of a documented rise in cab-caused crashes involving cars, pedestrians and cyclists alike, two large cab fleet owners have proposed returning 125 taxis to the old driver commission system. It would be part of a two-year study to see how to best mitigate intense pressure on drivers who now, because they lease their taxis, often speed and drive recklessly to collect as many fares as possible in a single shift to cover initial costs. The NY Post wrote recently that "the leasing system makes driving a taxi the urban version of sharecropping. The driver bears all the risks of the industry - whether they come in the form of a bad day, bad weather or a massive traffic jam."

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Pave the Forest to See the Trees?
"The roads to the open spaces we save, and the infrastructure that must be put in place to support the natural resources are just as critical as the open space itself," said Governor Whitman in a speech to the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Apparently, she is having a tough time balancing promotion of construction jobs and preservation of open space. Her administration is still backing the development of another highway in NJ: Route 92, through some of the state's last rural towns, open space and wetlands.

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