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Thread: Reactivation of Staten Island Railroad

  1. #1
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    Default Reactivation of Staten Island Railroad

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki Announce Reactivation of Staten Island Railroad ( 12/15/2004 )
    http://newyorkbiz.com/About_Us/getPr...lxx.cfm?id=275

    Construction Begins on Project Creating Over 780 Construction Jobs and 330 Permanent Jobs for Staten Island

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today announced that construction has begun on the reactivation of the eight-mile Staten Island Railroad to provide rail-freight access to Staten Island. The $72 million project is a joint venture of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The project will create more than 780 construction-related jobs and 330 permanent jobs for Staten Island and reduce truck traffic on the island by 100,000 trips a year.

    ”This is a critical project for the economic and environmental future of Staten Island,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Reactivation of the Staten Island Railroad will help support local businesses with low-cost rail transportation, improve the environment and reduce wear and tear on our roads. In addition, because shipping goods via rail costs about half as much as shipping by truck, it will also save consumers money.”

    ”We’ve made a commitment to improving and expanding New York’s port infrastructure in order to maintain our competitive economy,” Governor Pataki said. “Restoring rail service to Staten Island and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal will help boost economic activity for New York City by providing low-cost transportation of goods. The people of Staten Island can also look forward to fewer trucks on the Staten Island Expressway and the Goethals Bridge.”

    In 1994, New York City, using Federal and City funds, acquired the New York State portions of the Staten Island Railroad from CSX. Reactivation will provide direct rail service to the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook, the Department of Sanitation’s Fresh Kills Transfer Facility, Visy Paper and VanBro Corp., as well as other industrial businesses on the Travis Branch Line, which runs along Staten Island’s western shore. Reconstruction of the rail line will add more than $93 million in economic activity to the City’s economy. By 2010, the total economic impact of the reactivation on New York City’s economy will be more than $200 million.

    Congressman Vito Fossella said, “This project will increase economic activity on Staten Island, remove truck traffic from our local roads and create new opportunities for Howland Hook to continue expanding. It will also allow the Port of New York to remain competitive with other facilities and create new incentives to attract businesses and new jobs to Staten Island.”

    State Senator John Marchi said, “The joint announcement by the Governor and the Mayor is good news for Staten Island and for New York. Reactivation of the Staten Island Railroad resonates on many levels. It will boost our economy and improve our environment. I applaud the city and state for making this happen.”

    Assemblyman Michael Cusick said, “This is great news for Staten Island. This project will help improve our economy, our environment, and it will help take thousands of trucks off our heavily congested roads. The Staten Island Railroad will not only help bring more money and jobs to the Island but it will also help improve our quality of life.”

    Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro said, “This step will not only eliminate tons of pollution from tractor trailers, but will also offer the opportunity for distribution centers to locate in service areas that require rail service for their merchandise.”

    The project will include a number of improvements to the SIRR. The Port Authority is constructing an inter-modal facility in order to provide the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook with direct rail access. Tracks will be added to allow direct service to Arlington Yard, and a one-mile rail spur will be constructed to connect the railroad to Fresh Kills and Visy Paper. Three wooden trestle rail bridges over creeks will be replaced with more stable concrete structures. The Arthur Kill lift bridge, which connects the SIRR to the Port Authority’s Chemical Coastline Connector in New Jersey, will undergo minor structural repairs and repainting. EDC renovated the lift bridge several years ago. The construction is expected to be completed in early 2006.

    Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said, “The Port Authority has maintained a strong commitment to the New York Container Terminal since it reopened in the mid 1990s, and will invest a total of $350 million in it to help boost economic activity for New York City and the region. The Staten Island Railroad will add critical rail service to the terminal, allowing the facility to grow and reducing its current reliance on trucks for the distribution of cargo.”

    EDC President Andrew M. Alper said, “The project is just one part of what the City and State are doing to improve Staten Island’s industrial waterfront at Howland Hook. In addition to the rail spur to provide rail service directly to the facility, New York Container Terminal is undergoing major expansion projects including the addition of 500 feet of berth, an on-dock-rail facility, and the renovation of a 212,000-square-foot warehouse. These improvements and new capacity will add 200 employees to the terminal’s current workforce of 800.”

    Since it reopened in 1996, the New York Container Terminal, formally known as the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, has become the fastest growing marine terminal in New York Harbor and Staten Island’s largest employer. Other terminal improvements include the installation of four new post-panamax cranes as well as other modernization, representing an overall investment of nearly $50 million. With the improvements currently underway or planned, and a dredging project by the Army Corp of Engineers to deepen its channel from 35 to 50 feet to accommodate modern container ships, the terminal has the potential of creating an additional 1,200 jobs over the next 20 years.

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    Default Light rail plan gathers steam in growing area

    Light rail plan gathers steam in growing area
    http://www.newyorkbusiness.com/artic...rticleId=22255

    Study shows SI, NJ link would be feasible; costs may scuttle it

    By Anita Jain
    Published on December 20, 2004


    Some days, Unique Sotirakis' commute by express bus to her midtown Manhattan office from the south shore of Staten Island lasts only an hour. Those are the good days.

    With traffic, it can often be an hour and a half or longer-like the time a couple of months ago when she got stuck in a tunnel for 45 minutes. "It's not very reliable because of the traffic," the advertising sales executive says.

    Staten Island officials, however, are working to make Ms. Sotirakis' daily journey a bit less tedious. After years of discussion, they have taken the initial steps toward building a light rail system that would greatly reduce travel times for daily commuters from the south shore of the borough.

    An initial study of the project, funded by New York City's Economic Development Corp., was completed over the summer.


    Long way off


    But Ms. Sotirakis shouldn't plan on sleeping in anytime soon. A solution--if it were to see the light of day at all--is still years away. Difficulties with receiving environmental approvals and finding funding for the nearly $1 billion project could scuttle plans for the rail system.

    Officials have been taking the idea of a light rail system more seriously of late because of the recent explosive population growth in the borough. From 1990 to 2000, the Tottenville area in southern Staten Island-where the light rail train would commence-has been the fastest-growing region in the borough, which itself has been the fastest-growing county in New York state. In that decade, Tottenville's population grew 50%, while Staten Island's population increased 17%.

    The completed study established that a light rail train going from the southern tip of Staten Island over the Bayonne Bridge into New Jersey would be feasible to build. Once in New Jersey, the train would discharge commuters near a PATH station. "Commuters could switch once to the PATH and be in Manhattan in under an hour," says Randy Lee, executive vice chairman of the Staten Island Economic Development Corp.

    The system, which would take between 10 and 15 years to build, would clearly be aimed at residents in the southern, western and central parts of the island who experience lengthier commutes. All told, nearly 100,000 Staten Island residents commute to one of the other boroughs or New Jersey daily.

    The next stage in the process to bring a light rail transit system to Staten Island would be a second, more detailed study that would look at the environmental impact of the project. The costs associated with the first study were fairly minimal at $50,000, but the next study could cost as much as $500,000, Mr. Lee says. He adds that the SIEDC is seeking funding from city and federal officials for the second study.

    "I will try to secure funding under the transportation or economic development appropriations bill," says Rep. Vito Fossella, R-Staten Island.

    But some city agencies are already distancing themselves from the project. Janel Patterson, spokeswoman for the city's EDC, says that while the agency funded the first study, it might not be involved in a second. "Since the city does not normally undertake transportation projects of this magnitude, the next step would be for the MTA or the Port Authority to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement if they felt it warranted," she says.


    Keeping distance


    The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey claims to have even less involvement. A spokesman says, "We have no involvement with this, nor have we been asked to, either."

    Staten Island officials, however, remain firmly in favor of the project. "We've established the basic need for it, and that's important," says James Molinaro, the borough's president. "Once you have that, you can move forward."

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    I find any automobile alternative exciting. It seems that the turn of this century has put mass transportation infrastructure front and center. So many projects - all with merit - all viable - who will have the vision to commit the funding and follow thru. Unfortunately, I don't think Pataki is the man.

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    Places like this are lucky to already have designated right-of-way or existing tracks to exploit and are more likely to be realized than places who have to buy or condemn properties along a non-existant corridor.

    I did some preliminary work on this North Shore light rail, they have the ridership numbers and the right-of-way, it's just that there are more pressing transit improvements so it's not on the top of anyone's list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NYatKNIGHT
    Places like this are lucky to already have designated right-of-way or existing tracks to exploit and are more likely to be realized than places who have to buy or condemn properties along a non-existant corridor.

    I did some preliminary work on this North Shore light rail, they have the ridership numbers and the right-of-way, it's just that there are more pressing transit improvements so it's not on the top of anyone's list.
    IS the commuter light rail in article #2 the same as the freight rail in article #1? I don't think it is.

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    September 5, 2008, 10:33 am

    S.I. Railway to Close Walking Loophole

    By Jake Mooney


    The Tompkinsville Station on the Staten Island Railway is being renovated to include turnstiles. Previously, some commuters got off and on at the station and walked a half-mile to the St. George Terminal — the only station where the $2 fare is collected — to avoid having to pay. (Photos: Mary DiBiase Blaich for The New York Times)

    In these tight economic times, with transportation costs rising, how
    far will people go to save a few dollars on their commute? For the last 11 years, on Staten Island, the answer appears to be about half a mile — the distance some riders of the local commuter train walk every day to avoid the system’s $2 fare.

    By this time next year, we’ll know if they are willing to trek six-tenths of a mile on top of that.

    Within a few years, it may become even harder for riders on the Staten Island Railway to get a free ride.

    The situation, reported in The Times in 2004, is this: For reasons that are somewhat complex, the only station on the railway where fares are collected — for people getting both on and off trains — is St. George, at the ferry terminal at the island’s northern tip.

    Riders who don’t want to pay, then, can get off the train a stop early, at Tompkinsville, and walk the half-mile to the ferry in about 10 minutes, free of charge.

    But now the railway, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is throwing those frugal commuters a curveball: The Tompkinsville station is being renovated to install turnstiles, which means that come next summer, riders will have to pay to get off the train there, too. The closest free stop to the ferry would then be Stapleton, a little over a mile away, and whether people will get off and walk from there is an open question. (This development was first reported in The Staten Island Advance.)

    I spent a morning this week hanging around the Tompkinsville platform — there isn’t really much else there that you’d call a “station” — and talking to riders about the change. The results are in the Dispatches feature of this week’s City section.

    John G. Gaul, the chief officer of the railway, provided some background in an interview on Thursday about the decision to add fares at Tompkinsville — a decision that was not greeted too warmly this week.

    First, Mr. Gaul said, the shift was motivated, “in large measure, but not totally,” by the desire to get $2 apiece from some of those people who are now getting off the train to avoid paying. That, he said, would yield about $661,000 more in annual revenue — about a 10 percent increase over the line’s current revenue.

    The other factors involve the history of the line’s fare system, which is a little convoluted. Until 1997, Mr. Gaul said, the railway had historically operated like most other commuter lines, with conductors roaming the cars, punching riders’ tickets and collecting money. But that year, the MetroCard was introduced to the system, changing everything.

    “Overnight,” he said, “There was no longer any way for an employee on board the train to handle fares.”

    So, rather than install MetroCard readers at every station and try to restrict access to all the platforms — an initiative that Mr. Gaul said would have been prohibitively expensive, not to mention difficult, with so many wide-open platforms — railway leadership decided just to eliminate the charges, except at St. George, where their data showed most passengers were getting on and off anyway.

    A side effect, though, was that with less supervision on the trains, and no fares, crime began to rise. Or, as Mr. Gaul put it, “While major crime is very, very few and far between on the railroad, we did almost immediately begin to track an increase in aberrant youth behavior, in vandalism, in joyriding.”


    The renovations to the Tompkinsville Station will also include closed-circuit television cameras, part of a security initiative.

    To address those problems, in 2005 the M.T.A. started looking into ways to start charging fees again. They came up with a system like the one used in the PATH train system, which has unstaffed stations with low turnstiles monitored by closed-circuit television. That is the $6.9 million project now being installed at Tompkinsville, and could be installed at other stations if all goes well.

    “We call it the Tompkinsville fare collection pilot project,” Mr. Gaul said. “Our experience in this is expected to guide our efforts in the future.”

    Most likely, he added, that will involve putting in turnstiles at “select stations where it makes economic sense.” Even if the Tompkinsville project doesn’t go well — if people are jumping over the turnstiles, for example — the new building being built next to the platform there can be modified later to include the kind of turnstiles that reach from floor to ceiling. So bargain-hunting riders, and anyone else hoping the railway will not charge fares at Tompkinsville after all, should probably not get their hopes up.

    This all comes at a time, Mr. Gaul said, in which ridership on the railway has been steadily increasing. It peaked in 1987, then declined for several years in a shift that Mr. Gaul blames partly on the volatile late-80s stock market and the expansion of express bus service. But since 2004, he said, ridership has been on the rise, almost to its previous high. Of course, that coincides with some larger trends too, such as the rising cost of gas and growing congestion on area roads.

    As of March, Mr. Gaul said, about 2,100 people got on and off the train at Tompkinsville every day. There’s no way to know how many of them were headed for the ferry or the St. George area in general, but it seemed to me the other day that a significant percentage of people getting off in Tompkinsville were walking in that direction.

    Riders who were headed that way made it sound as if the choice were obvious. “Why would you pay for it if you can walk?” said one, Maria Popolano. Another, Dawn Coiro, added up the cost of two trips a day, six days a week. “It’s like $50 a month, you know what I’m saying?” she said.

    “That adds up out of your paycheck.”

    It’s worth noting, by the way, that while the M.T.A. is trying to stop people from circumventing the fare this way, no one is alleging that the strategy is improper. The railway would rather people didn’t do it, but Mr. Gaul acknowledged that it was a perfectly legal loophole.

    “I wish I could get that much exercise every day,” he chuckled.
    Next summer, people still looking to skip the fare can walk from Stapleton and double their workouts.

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...king-loophole/

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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