Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Study Predicts 300 Fewer Vehicles Per Day on Local Streets If Verrazzano Toll Changes
A new analysis commissioned by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (the arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that oversees the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge) has quantified the possible impact on Lower Manhattan traffic of a proposal being spearheaded by U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler and City Council member Margaret Chin to reform tolling policy on that span, which connects Brooklyn with Staten Island.
Although Verrazzano is eight miles away from Lower Manhattan, its toll regimen is a significant contributor to Downtown traffic patterns. According to a 2018 study performed by Sam Schwarz Engineering, collecting a toll for cars headed in both directions (rather than the current policy of levying double that amount, but only on cars headed from Brookyln to Staten Island) could would divert up to 130 cars per hour, during peak driving periods, away from Lower Manhattan.
This comes down to financial incentives. Traffic (especially large trucks, for which bridge and tunnel tolls are much costlier) seeks the path of least expense. As a result, each day, more than 1,000 trucks making a round trip between New York and New Jersey cross the Verrazzano on their way into the City, and then exit via the Holland Tunnel, which collects no toll on westbound traffic, but does charge for vehicles moving eastward.
This counter-clockwise vortex brings into Downtown’s already-congested streets many hundreds of trucks that would otherwise never enter Manhattan, but chose the route because the combination of the free East River crossings, such as the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, with the Holland Tunnel, gets them to New Jersey free of charge. On the last leg of this journey, vast fleets of trucks use Kenmare, Broome, and Canal Streets as an interstate highway, on their approach to the Holland Tunnel.
As Ms. Chin noted recently, “since the institution of one-way tolling on the Verrazzano Bridge more than thirty years ago, Lower Manhattan residents have been subject to a continuous flood of vehicle traffic that has only delivered more congestion, noise and traffic safety issues to our overburdened thoroughfares.”
The new report, prepared by transportation consulting firm WSP Global, predicts that imposing a toll in both directions on the Verrazzano would largely eliminate this perverse incentive, and estimates that the bridge would gain an additional 4,361 New Jersey-bound vehicles each weekday. Of this number, WSP estimates, some 38 percent (or slightly more than 1,650 vehicles) would otherwise use the Holland Tunnel, meaning that they would travel through Lower Manhattan (primarily via Canal Street) to get there. Almost all of the remaining 2,700-plus vehicles, the firm estimates, would also pass through Manhattan, but use either the Lincoln Tunnel or George Washington Bridge to cross the Hudson River into New Jersey.
Somewhat surprisingly, the WSP report also projects that the changed Verrazzano tolling policy would motivate approximately 4,325 additional vehicles originating in New Jersey to enter Manhattan each weekday via the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, or the George Washington Bridge. Of these, the firm estimates, 31 percent (or 1,340 vehicles) would come through the Holland Tunnel.
In net terms, this amounts to a daily decrease of more than 300 vehicles (many of them large trucks) using Lower Manhattan streets to enter or leave the Holland Tunnel each weekday.
“Canal Street and Varick Street are likely to see the highest net reduction of traffic, about 50 vehicles, during the peak midday hour,” the WSP report notes. But for Lower Manhattan residents hoping that the chronically snarled traffic on Canal Street will pick up the pace, the report predicts that changes will be incremental, rather than dramatic, foreseeing that “speeds… would decrease up to 0.3 mph, from 4.6 mph to 4.3 mph, in the eastbound direction and increase up to 0.3 mph, from 5.8 mph to 6.1 mph, in the westbound direction during the off-peak periods, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 6:00 am.”
The 2018 report from Sam Schwarz Engineering noted that since 1986, when the Verrazzano stopped collecting tolls in both directions, and began charging a double-toll on westbound-traffic, both vehicular volume and statistics about accidents have spiked upward. Even in 1986, the effects of the change were apparent almost immediately. In the three years before the Verrazzano changed it tolls, one pedestrian was killed along Kenmore and Broome Streets. In the years that followed, the rate jumped to an average of one death per year.
And these metrics appears to be trending upward. Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that aims to wrest control of New York City’s streets from the automobile and supports better bicycling, walking, and public transit, says that on Canal Street alone, there have been 13 pedestrian deaths since 2009, plus more than 120 pedestrian and cyclist injuries since 2013.
Last July, Ms. Chin introduced a City Council resolution calling for two-way tolling on the Verrazzano Bridge. Ms. Chin’s resolution noted that while every other bridge or tunnel operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) collects tolls in both directions, “under the current system, drivers, especially those traveling between New Jersey and points in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, can significantly minimize the amount of tolls they pay by entering the City via Staten Island and crossing the Verrazzano, then leaving via the free East River bridges, crossing Manhattan, and using the Hudson River crossings, which are only tolled in the eastbound direction.”
Ms. Chin’s resolution also observed that, “at the time it was enacted, the rationale for [the one-way Verrazzano toll] was to decrease congestion and pollution caused by traffic backing up in Staten Island,” but, “those concerns are now largely moot because cashless open-road tolling was introduced at the Verrazzano in July 2017, so drivers no longer slow down to pay tolls at tollbooths.”
Under ordinary circumstances, a measure such as the one that Ms. Chin sponsored could be expected (if enacted by the full City Council) to result in changed policy, since both ends of the Verrazzano Bridge sit within the five boroughs of New York City. But in this case, the City Council, the Mayor, and even the Governor are all reduced to an advisory role, because the United States Congress enacted a law in 1986 prohibiting the MTA from collecting tolls in both directions on the span. This bill was sponsored by then-U.S. Congressman (and later Staten Island Borough President) Guy Molinari, in response to pressure from his constituents, who complained about air pollution from Verrazzano’s toll plaza. (This makes the Verrazzano-Narrows the only bridge in the United States with a tolling policy mandated by the federal government.)
It is that measure that federal legislators, led by Mr. Nadler, hope to overturn. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives enacted a spending bill that contained a provision ordering two-way tolling on the Verrazzano. That measure now awaits action from the U.S. Senate.
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
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EYES TO THE SKY
September 16 – 29, 2019
Protect the night. It is good for you
As the Sun’s arc shortens in the skies of Earth’s northern hemisphere, we approach equal day and night.
Soon after the autumnal equinox, which occurs on September 23 this year, darkness expands over daylight. We will see more of the distant stars in our galaxy than our own star, the Sun.
Through the long nights we might imagine that many of the stars in our skies are suns that light and warm other planets, making life possible. When we pause to think cosmically, we awake to boundless amazement at the existence of planet Earth, the precision and beauty of our home planet’s functioning.
How does each of us contribute to protecting the health of our planetary home in the cosmos? Human health – physical and mental – derives from healthy environments. Our concern in Eyes to the Sky is with what has been described as Earth’s largest habitat, the sky. A clear blue sky lifts our mood. We all recognize and decry air pollution, often seen as a band of smog around the horizon of an otherwise blue sky.
Air pollution is not only disfiguring, it is a health hazard. Likewise, the haze that more or less obliterates – especially in towns and cities – what would be a clear, awe-inspiring, star-filled sky at night, is slow to be recognized for what it is, a smog of light pollution.
Light pollution has been discovered to be as hazardous to our physical and mental health as other toxins. It is also within our reach to clean it up.
Take these steps:
2) Read this NY Times Opinion piece, “Is the Evening Sky Doomed?”
Light pollution is threatening our ability to see the cosmos.
It begins with, “The lights we use to illuminate our cities and suburbs don’t just shine on our sidewalks and streets; they also shine up into the sky, where they bounce around in the atmosphere, creating a smog of light. That featureless glow of our nocturnal skies is called “light pollution.”
Tuesday September 17
Bird Walk with NYC Audubon
Explore the diversity of migrating birds that find food and habitat in The Battery. The walk will be led by Gabriel Willow, an educator from NYC Audubon. Meet at the Netherland Memorial Flagpole, at the intersection of Broadway, Battery Place, and State Street. Free The Battery Conservancy
6 River Terrace
Join a fitness dance party with upbeat Latin music of salsa, merengue, hip-hop, and more! Enthusiastic instruction creates a fun community of dancers who learn new steps each week. Free. Battery Park City Authority
CB1’s Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee
Community Board 1 – Conference Room 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
1) Trust for Governors Island – Presentation by Clare Newman, President & CEO
2) Queuing at Statue of Liberty Cruises, the Battery/Hornblower, Pier 15 – Discussion with Captain Mark Phillips, Director of Marine and Facility Operations, Hornblower
3) South Street Seaport Museum Cultural Institutions Group Status – Resolution
4) Floating billboards – Update
5) Ticket Hawkers – Update
Fraunces Tavern Museum
Join us for a look at how spies communicated during the Revolutionary War! In this interactive lecture, historical interpreter Norman Goben will explore the successes and failures of Patriot spy rings and demonstrate their methods of communications. Hear about the agents of espionage who helped win the war, and learn how to code your own secret messages. $5, $10
54 Pearl Street.
The Grandest Madison Square Garden
When completed in 1890, the (second) Madison Square Garden complex on the northeast corner of Manhattan’s Madison Square featured the tallest tower in the country, from its base to the 18-foot sculpture of a nude Diana.
In The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, and Architecture in Gilded Age New York, art historian Suzanne Hinman examines the lives and achievements of the two creative minds behind the building, architect Stanford White and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, as a gateway to explore the art, architecture, and popular entertainment of Gilded Age New York City. Reservations are required. Free 39 Battery Place.
Museum of Jewish Heritage
The film Forgotten Soldier tells the story of Salomon Noach, a Dutch citizen who risked his life in Vichy, France to save hundreds from deportation to Auschwitz. Free 36 Battery Place.
Upcoming Community Board meetings
Licensing & Permits Committee
Community Board 1 – Conference Room 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
Quality of Life & Service Delivery Committee
Manhattan Borough President’s Office 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor – South
DAY IN HISTORY
1630 – The city of Boston, Massachusetts is founded.
1683 – Antonie van Leeuwenhoek writes a letter to the Royal Society describing “animalcules”.
1778 – The Treaty of Fort Pitt is signed. It is the first formal treaty between the United States and a Native American tribe.
1859 – Joshua A. Norton declares himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States.”
1862 – American Civil War: George B. McClellan halts the northward drive of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army in the single-day Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history.
1862 – American Civil War: The Allegheny Arsenal explosion results in the single largest civilian disaster during the war.
1908 – The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes, killing Selfridge, who becomes the first airplane fatality.
1916 – World War I: Manfred von Richthofen (“The Red Baron”), a flying ace of the German Luftstreitkrдfte, wins his first aerial combat near Cambrai, France.
1939 – World War II: The Soviet invasion of Poland begins.
1939 – World War II: German submarine U-29 sinks the British aircraft carrierHMS Courageous.
1941 – World War II: Soviet forces enter Tehran during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.
1954 – The novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding is first published.
1991 – The first version of the Linux kernel (0.01) is released to the Internet.
2001 – The New York Stock Exchange reopens for trading after the September 11 attacks, the longest closure since the Great Depression.
2006 – Fourpeaked Mountain in Alaska erupts, marking the first eruption for the volcano in at least 10,000 years.
2011 – Occupy Wall Street movement begins in Zuccotti Park, New York City.
879 – Charles the Simple, Frankish king (d. 929)
1479 – Celio Calcagnini, Italian astronomer (d. 1541)
1739 – John Rutledge, Second Chief Justice of the United States (d. 1800)
1883 – William Carlos Williams, American poet, short story writer, and essayist (d. 1963)
1903 – Frank O’Connor, Irish short story writer, novelist, and poet (d. 1966)
1929 – Stirling Moss, English race car driver
1935 – Ken Kesey, American novelist, essayist, and poet (d. 2001)
1025 – Hugh Magnus, king of France (b. 1007)
1665 – Philip IV, king of Spain (b. 1605)
1877 – Henry Fox Talbot, English photographer, developed the Calotype Process (b. 1800)
1996 – Spiro Agnew, American soldier and politician, 39th Vice President of the United States (b. 1918)
credits include wikipedia and other internet sources
Cruise Ships in the Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Tuesday, September 17
Inbound 6:30am; in port overnight
Wednesday, September 18
Mein Schiff 1
Inbound 6:45 am (Bayonne); in port overnight
Thursday, September 19
Outbound 5 pm;
Transatlantic (Maine/Canadian Maritimes/Southampton, UK)
Friday, September 20
Mein Schiff 1
Outbound 10:00 pm (Bayonne);
New England/Canadian Maritimes/Quebec City
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm; Bermuda
Saturday, September 21
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 6:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 4:00 pm; Bermuda
Inbound 12:15 pm; in port overnight
Inbound 5:30 am (Brooklyn); outbound 5:00 pm; New England/Canadian Maritimes
Sunday, September 22
Inbound 7:15 am; in port overnight
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm; New England/Canada
Inbound 7:30 am (Bayonne); 4:00 pm;
New England/Canadian Maritimes/Quebec City
Outbound 5:30 pm; Bermuda/Miami, FL
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm; Maine/Canadian Maritimes
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
If They Went Any Slower, They’d Slip Into Reverse
City Transportation Study Finds That Lower Manhattan Bus Service Is Among Most Sluggish in Five Boroughs
The annual New York City Mobility Report, produced by the City’s Department of Transportation, contains two data points that will come as no surprise residents of Lower Manhattan. The first of these is that the median speed for Downtown bus service ranks among the slowest of any community in the five boroughs. And the second is that this creeping pace is, if anything, getting creepier. To read more…
Remembrance of Things Aghast
Residents and Local Leaders Recall 18 Septembers Ago
A panel of residents and local leaders participated in a panel discussion at the South Street Seaport, hosted by the Howard Hughes Corporation and moderated by CNBC’s Contessa Brewer, who lives in Lower Manhattan.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
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Dishes, windows, floors, laundry, bathrooms.
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IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
Experienced IT technician. Expertise in 1-on-1 tutoring for all ages.Computer upgrading & troubleshooting.
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Experienced with BPC residents. Available nights, days, and weekends. Will cook, clean and administer medicine on time. Speaks French and English. Can start immediately.
Please call or text 929-600-4520.
OLD WATCHES SOUGHT
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Click to watch a September storm pass over Staten Island
Click to watch soccer practice at the Battery Park City Ballfields
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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