COMMENT ON PRESENTATION OF THE FOURTEEN NEW ALTERNATIVES
March 24, 2022
Att: Program Lead Matt Discenna, and
All Others Concerned or Interested:
Port Authority, MTA and the Public
To Whom it May Concern:
This will be my final critique of your actions concerning this project within the planned for public process absent solicitation of further such criticism BY YOU - and at this point I think that would be your best bet.
Concerning my two LGA Access proposals found on Page 3 at https://www.rail-nyc-access.com, submitted to you in good faith, one of which has been around on the internet since 2014 and received much promotional effort by my standards including three appearances before the Port Authority Board and a YouTube video, all of which you ignored completely, with no mention in any of the NEPA documents whatsoever, all the while making lots of ill defined proposals stretching now to 61 separate alternatives by my count...
(including the original 47 as I thought? ...or was it only 43 as your publicity/media man has recently stated, with the fourteen new ones being only additional sub-alternatives for the most part?)
...which MAY have included something similar to one of my proposals, if quite remotely - the alternatives being too vague to draw any conclusion as to much similarity, and described on separate pages making a headache to navigate, whereas you omitted written descriptions altogether in working up the latest fourteen... CONCERNING MY TWO PROPOSALS I want them reviewed by you with detail and clarity, as I told the CEO and board in 2017.
It is hard for me to believe that the three illuminti selected to oversee the fourteen new proposals had much practical input on them, as it looks like the same contracting-oriented MO as before was used - of working up several vague proposals and printing diagrams for public consumption, with minimal explanation of what the proposals might entail, and no apparent effort to refine any of them EXCEPT THE INTENDED ONE.
With possibly a few exceptions, it is an exercise in creating unintended proposals.
The first of my proposals, LaGuardia Direct Route, found at the URL given above, offers the best and most cost-effective overall approach for meeting the various and often discussed needs of LGA access according to my assesment of all the alternatives generally, which it must be said is more accurate than your assessment since you have ignored my alternatives completely - plus a third one, see below.
By means of its proposed half-and-half staging you get the First Stage: running from Willets Point - with intermediate stops at Citi Field and Astoria Boulevard-World's Fair Marina - AND a series of three or so intra-airport-terminal stations to address the crucial need for such service there in a convenient, frequent and speedy format, WHICH HAS NOT BEEN ADDRESSED IN ANY OF YOUR PROPOSALS TO DATE.
The First Stage would include a storage and maintenance facility at the airport, and continue west in the Second Stage with stops at Astoria Heights, Chamber of Commerce, 64th Street (at Northern Blvd.) and a Northern Boulevard terminus suggested for interchange of passengers with a new NEC station there, having a turn-around loop sufficient to accommodate five or six LGA trains with two of them stopped for passengers loading and unloading.
An illustration at the webpage referred to, showing alignment of the preferred option of this proposal, has a single-track elevator for trains at Astoria Heights, which brings the tunnelling needed to reach the airport to a bare minimum. Being a single-track tunnel, and having a cross section that would accommodate a loading gauge quite a bit smaller than any used for standard gauge passenger trains, the preferred option would reduce height and breadth of excavating needed to avoid the runway protection zone to the smallest dimensions possible.
A commuter rail proposal using Innovia or Innovia-like 3rd rail equipment is found on the same webpage below the first proposal, and is called "LaGuardia Direct". It would provide a one-seat ride from the two Manhattan termini, direct to the airport, with a possible stop at Northern Boulevard as described above, and another stop under 49th Street near the BQE. Again, this proposal contemplates a single-track configuration in passing under Grand Central Parkway, since it is hoped the equipment would be faster than a subway train, while the distance to be traversed under the highway would be shorter than that of any subway alternative yet suggested, and shorter also than that of the NEW SUBWAY ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTED BELOW.
While this proposal of mine WAS mentioned in the Final EIS you appear to misconstrue its alignment (despite the copious illustrations) since it would have no interaction with trackage at Sunnyside Yard, and in fact, no one would consider building such a thing. Still, the same excuse is given to blackball all three of your consultants' OWN proposals: that of over-taxing capacity at Sunnyside Yard. Although the consultants' three proposals are vaguely described, they all appear to share the same route at all points east of Harold Interlocking, a route which would likely be impossible of realization for a number of reasons, which I have described in some detail in my comment of October 2020, and on the instant webpage. By the time the ROD came out they had revised the descriptions of their three rail alignments and dropped the Sunnyside Yard thing (probably due to my criticism) yet there was no statement noting the misconstruction of MY proposal, so that, as a practical matter, it has received no review at all.
From this it's clear that CEO Cotton's statements that: "The project has been subjected to an exhaustive and independent review" [...] and [we have] specifically analysed all the alternatives." and that:
"We have been as responsive as possible to the concerns of the community."
Besides, in analyzing costs of their three rail options, and by association mine, the Port Authority has assumed use of a new East River Tunnel, and included it in the price.
THE OMITTED STEINWAY STREET SUBWAY ALTERNATIVE
Concerning subway alternatives, further study is needed. I am not privy to any specific DESIGN for a branch or continuation extending from the area of Astoria Boulevard and 31st Street, but know that any effort to maximize elevated configuration of either of the two laterally defined options presents manifold issues of grade, and space needed to permit transitions between aerial and sub-grade alignments, as well as the undesirable proximity to residential buildings: and I would suggest that we ALL be made privy to the particulars of any such DESIGN(S) forthwith.
I am making a few assumptions about the state or feasibility of any such DESIGN(S) for a branch or continuation of the BMT line (simply because I find it hard to fathom) when I say the Steinway Street option has been completely neglected. ...except inasmuch as you mention it in the process of blacklisting it from further consideration during the scoping process, on a false pretence which you lay at the feet of one Guo Zhan Wu, P.E. from the Department of Environmental Protection.
THERE IS NO SUCH CONFLICT WITH WATER TUNNEL THREE.
SUBWAY CONSTRUCTION REQUIRES RELOCATION OF SUBSURFACE STRUCTURES, THAT'S NOT A REVELATION.
As a civil engineering option involving subway expansion, an LGA branch diverging under Steinway Street is the most instinctive and PROBABLE subway alternative now before us - as it was when you blacklisted it. With the public desire for a subway option being what it is, it goes without saying that this alternative must be investigated thoroughly before any further ROD can be issued: and if not, you should rightly be compelled.
With the Steinway Street Branch you have six tracks under the the East River to choose from, as opposed to two with the BMT Line: i.e. ONE ROUTE ONLY. Continuing east, there is a minimum of six tracks available, for purposes of running the five anticipated 2-directional services, from which the airport branch might diverge. All the existing connections are grade-separated, offering substantial capacity for a given number of converging and diverging trains, before any project even begins.
It would be hard to find a place more well suited and opportune for locating a new diverging branch service. And if the station must be partially relocated in order to accommodate the grade of any new diverging tracks passing under it it's of little concern, since the station must be closed and altered anyway, to accommodate the new right-of-way. The street is 75 feet wide there, and it might be that the new tracks could be made to run outside the platform columns, making the arrangement more compact.
In addition to a terminal station at the airport, three suggested additional stations might be served by a Steinway Street airport branch: 30th Avenue, 49th Street and Astoria Heights.
Bruce W. Hain
Queens, New York
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