Planes Trains & Automobiles
MTA chairman and CEO Joe Lhota has thrown his support behind Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for stronger infrastructure to protect New York City from future natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy.
This may not be surprising—after all, the governor is Mr. Lhota’s boss—but their unanimity on the matter will lend extra support to the idea of improving the city’s defenses against future floods and rising sea levels. That support is especially important when Mayor Bloomberg has so far dismissed calls for strengthened infrastructure around the city.
Planes Trains & Automobiles
The Rockaways have been one of the hardest hit areas of the city following Superstorm Sandy, with lives lost, houses destroyed, crime on the streets. It has also been a remarkably resilient place, with diehard New Yorkers beginning the daunting work of rebuilding. It will be a long time before the Rockaways returns to normal, though, and it turns out that goes for subway service to the area, too.
At a press briefing Thursday night, MTA chief Joe Lhota said it would be some time before A-train service could be restored to the Rockaways due to extensive damage to the Broad Channel crossing that carries the train between Howard Beach in Brooklyn to the Rockaways.
“The amount of destruction on the A-train over Broad Channel is indescribable,” Mr. Lhota told reporters.
One of the few bright spots to Hurricane Sandy, besides a new found appreciation for a subway system we too often loathe, is that crime is down, and according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, there have been no homicides since the storm hit the city Monday night.
“We’ve had no murders for three days,” Commissioner Kelly told reporters today inside the portico of City Hall, following the mayor’s afternoon press briefing. ”And we’ve also had a reduction in domestic violence.”
Make No Small Plans
New York has a history of governors who were master builders, Rockefeller, Smith, Carey, Pataki and both Roosevelts among them. Add Andrew Cuomo to that list. While Mayor Bloomberg has so far refused to consider building new infrastructure to help protect New York City from future natural disasters, Gov. Cuomo strongly declared last night that it is his intention to do so.
“I think we have to look at the bigger things,” he said at a press briefing yesterday evening. The Observer had asked if he was leaning toward small fixes, like new MTA vents to keep out rainwater, or more grandiose plans, like building locks and storm gates in the harbor (a practice that is popular in Europe). The governor clearly fell into the latter camp, and much of the reason seems to be because he fears this is only the beginning of problems from these natural disasters. After all, he has spent his first two years in office cleaning up after two hurricanes.
“I do not believe these extreme weather patterns are going to end; I do not believe, anymore, that this is once in a lifetime, once in a hundred years, once in a generation or just a fluke,” the governor said. “It’s happening more and more, with more and more frequency. This is just statistics and probability. You look at the number of devastating floods, the number of devastating fires, the number of extreme weather patterns is going up. That is a fact. That is a fact.”
Traversing Manhattan right now is a remarkable thing, especially if one heads in a particular north-south direction. Following Governor Cuomo’s press conference at the mouth of the Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, The Observer did just that (we were hotfooting it to the next press event at the 69th Regimental Armory). What we found along the way was at times surprising, but more often than not comforting, a reminder that life will indeed go on. One of these days.
The Neverending Story
So many parts of the city’s crucial infrastructure remain under water, most notably those Con Edison generators downtown, but the city is drying out remarkably fast following the worst storm in living memory. Even some of the subway tubes have come back, if only there was power to run trains through them.
At his press briefing this evening, Gov. Cuomo made a surprise announcement, actually in the middle of talking about what dismal shape the PATH train is in—there appear to be some five miles worth of flooding, the length the line under the Hudson from New York to New Jersey, so that is one thing that will probably be submerged for some time to come. But a place that will not be is the World Trade Center, which, after flooding a good 15 to 20 feet across the site only three days ago, is now dry and in working order.
“Work will recommence at the Ground Zero site tonight,” Gov. Cuomo declared. I was just congratulating some of the workers; there was tremendous flooding at the Ground Zero site. We went from seeing the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel turned into a flume, we walked up the World Trade Center site, where water was cascading into the site from every imaginable angle, at such a decibel level it was disorienting. The entire site was flooded.”
Planes Trains & Automobiles
The good news is, the subways are coming back to life with remarkable resilience. The bad news is even more would be running if there were power in Lower Manhattan.
Following a briefing with Gov. Cuomo this evening, MTA chairman and CEO Joe Lhota walked reporters through the status of the city’s subway system and the regional rail lines. As of now, the M train is running again in Queens and Brooklyn in two sections: from Jamiaca Center in Queens to Midtown, though it is skipping Queens Plaza and Court Square and getting to 42nd Street via the F line tunnel, and the M train shuttle from Middle Village in Queens to Myrtle Avenue.
The 7 train will also begin service tomorrow, possibly as soon as midnight, but only from Main Street in Flushing to 74th Street, Broadway Station. From there, straphangers can transfer to the F or M trains into Manhattan.
This reporter heard from a friend last night that they had seen a line for gas on Empire Boulevard, on the border of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights and Flatbush neighborhoods, that stretched for 10 blocks. Meanwhile, special corespondent Ian Lamb came upon this scene in Kensington:
With these pics from last night, there’s not much to say (and it seems like there will be pretty much the same story tonight). We just went to the East River Ferry dock in Greenpoint to check out the skyline. As you know, usually there’s a halo of light over the city, but now it just stops around 34th Street.
The rest is a void.
Mayor Bloomberg just announced at his first press briefing today that due to bumper-to-bumper traffic in Manhattan today, all East River crossings will be HOV-restricted starting tonight at 6 p.m. This means any vehicles wishing to enter Manhattan will have to have at least three passengers inside. The restrictions will be in place all day Thursday and Friday.
“We need to reduce the number of cars coming in. The streets cannot handle all the traffic,” Mayor Bloomberg said. He said the city would try and figure out a way to allow people to arrange for rides, either at the crossings or elsewhere, but no details were given.
“I know it’s inconvenient for a lot of people, but the streets just can’t handle it,” the mayor said.