May 18th - May 24th, 2007
Report Cards for Subways
May 18th: According to a report in the New York Times, New York City Transit's new president, Howard H. Roberts Jr., has said that improving bus and subway service will be a major initiative for him in his new role. Roberts has also said that in order to best serve New Yorkers, he wants to hear feedback from the city's residents and commuters regarding what improvements they would most like to see.
Roberts has announced plans to develop a system of "rider report cards" for subways and buses. According to the Times report, riders will be asked to grade the different elements of transit service, including safety, cleanliness of cars and stations, and responsiveness of MTA employees. They also will have an opportunity to list the three things that believe need the most improvement.
According to the report, the first report cards may appear as early as this summer beginning on the 7 line. The cards, which will likely be handed out to riders as they exit stations, can then be filled out and mailed in at no cost. By fall, Roberts says he hopes to bring the report cards to every line in the city's system, including buses.
Port Authority Cuts Emissions
May 18th: Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Anthony Coscia has announced that the agency has set a long-term goal of cutting emissions at airports and ports by 80 percent.
In order to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions, the city will be developing a plan over the next two years. The plan will likely include strategies related to taking better advantage of renewable energy sources and increasing the agency's overall efficiency.
Among his visions of how the city can achieve such an ambitious goal, Coscia has emphasized the use of geothermal energy to cool and heat buildings as well as installing fuel cells and harnessing wind and solar energy.
Port Authority Director Reports on WTC Progress
May 18th: Port Authority Executive Director Anthony Shorris spoke to the Downtown Express this week, providing an update regarding progress at the World Trade Center site. According to the his report, only a portion of the memorial plaza will be completed by 2009, followed by the museum in either 2010 or 2011.
The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in recent weeks that the organization has nearly reached its $350 million fundraising goal to help finish construction of the memorial. When asked about the rising construction costs, Shorris responded saying that even with the memorial's current price tag of $78 million, developers have managed to stay within budget.
In the report, Shorris addressed the public's concerns over the site's progress by explaining that there are three steps that need to be accomplished before the public will be able to really feel that the project is where it should be. Beginning construction was the first step. The next is soon to come -- having cranes below street level so that they are visible to passersby. The final step will be reached once the site is built up to street level and people can monitor the work themselves, which is expected to happen by next year.
Con Edison Gets Power Upgrade
May 21st: The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Con Edison is pursuing a large-scale plan to upgrade its aging electric system in New York City. The revamping of Con Ed's electric lines will include the installation of a new technology called superconducting cable. This type of cable is capable of deflecting power surges, thereby making it easier for systems to bounce back from power outages, equipment failures, or hostile attacks.
New York will be the first dense urban setting to use the new superconducting cable, according to the report. Unfortunately, the high-caliber cable comes at a cost, and a steep rate hike will be passed on to consumers for the new system despite already high energy costs. The Journal reports that the power-line upgrade is only one small piece of a spending program that could cost customers $7.78 billion between 2008 and 2011, a 48 percent increase.
The superconducting cable will be used to link two lower-voltage substations, giving Con Ed the ability to serve customers from either substation -- an element the company considers essential. Before moving forward, regulators will want to take a look at the proposed project's budget and determine if all aspects of the project are, in fact, truly needed.
Hotels on the Rise in Lower Manhattan
May 21st: With the revitalization of Lower Manhattan fully underway, it is not surprising that developers have been jumping at the chance to erect new luxurious hotels downtown.
According to a report this week in Crain's,two dozen hotel projects are either currently under construction or in the design phase. Upon completion, the projects will add 3,000 hotel rooms to the city's current accommodations and result in a doubling of the number of hotel rooms in Lower Manhattan. Prior to new developments, there were only nine hotels with a total of 2,197 rooms below Canal Street.
Crain's explains that the new hotels are an indicator of the "burgeoning, affluent crowd" that has been attracting high-end retailers and restaurants to Lower Manhattan. The report also adds that owners of existing hotels in the area are pouring money into upgrades of their own facilities in response to the changing downtown markets.
World Trade Center Insurance Claim Settled
May 23rd: Calling it "a monumentally important step forward," Governor Eliot Spitzer announced that Silverstein Properties and seven insurance companies reached a $2 billion settlement of all outstanding insurance claims arising from the destruction of the World Trade Center. The agreement, the largest in regulatory history, ends almost six years of legal wrangling and removes the last major obstacle to the redevelopment of Ground Zero.
The pact gives the rebuilding plan, which includes the Freedom Tower, four other skyscrapers, a train station, and a memorial, a dose of financial certainty. For more on this story, please click here.