to get federal money, New York state rolls out a 20-year plan
for passenger and freight rail
The rail plan announced Monday by Gov. David Paterson in conjunction
with the New York State Department of Transportation is an
ambitious step forward in improving the use, reliability,
and sustainability of both freight and passenger transportation
in New York state. The plan, which was submitted to the Federal
Railroad Administration, outlines specific short- and long-term
projects and costs.
The plan includes $671 million in projects over the next five
years; 23 percent of this would directly impact rail transportation
in upstate New York, with another 25 percent benefiting both
upstate and the New York City area. Of the 52 percent directed
specifically toward New York City, the majority, $280 million,
would help fund the Moynihan Station project in Manhattan
(involving both renovations to the existing Penn Station and
the development of a grand new station across the street in
the James Farley Post Office building).
One goal of the plan is to double intercity rail passengers,
not only through station, car, and track improvements, but
with the development of high-speed rail for passenger travel
across the state from Niagara Falls to Albany and New York
City. This is a long-term goal, outlined in the portion of
the plan expected to roll out between 2014 and 2028.
are very pleased with the release of the rail plan and also
with the greatly-increased emphasis on improving passenger
rail service in New York State,” said Bruce Becker, president
of the Empire State Passengers Association. According to Becker,
ESPA was a major stakeholder in the new rail plan.
Amtrak was involved with the development of the rail plan.
“We were working with the state and will continue to work
with the state in developing the improvements to the intercity
rail programs,” said a representative from the company. Amtrak,
which currently operates the Empire and Adirondack service
with an annual $2.5 million from New York state, is slated
to contribute $158 million over the next five years to improvement
projects for passenger rail.
Another goal is a 25-percent increase in freight rail. CSX
Transportation, a freight-rail service and member of Railroads
of New York, is the host railroad for 11 of the 18 projects
over the next five years. CSX and other freight-rail companies,
through RONY, were involved in the process of developing the
rail plan and are expected to contribute $30 million over
the next five years to development programs.
Robert Sullivan of CSX stressed the need for providing safe
freight rail, saying that more than 50 freight trains per
day operate over the Empire Corridor.
need to make sure that going forward in this we preserve the
ability to move that freight to serve our customers,” he said,
“and at the same time ensure that we have the ability to expand
and accommodate additional rail freight traffic that is going
to be coming in the future.”
Sullivan also spoke of the environmental benefits of increasing
freight rail, saying that every freight train represents as
many as 250 trucks off the highway.
is the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation,”
Becker said. “You can carry a ton of freight with far less
fuel than over the road, and making better use of freight
rail for long-distance hauling is a critical component of
The rail plan, the first in more than 20 years, was developed
in response to a program passed at the end of last year that
allowed states to submit plans for intercity rail transportation
to be considered for federal funds.
put this together before we knew there was going to be an
economic recovery program,” said Charles Carrier from NYSDOT.
The economic recovery program, passed in February, outlines
$9.3 billion for intercity rail. Requirements will not be
announced until June for this competitive program.
the rail plan and other things that we’re moving to put in
place—in respect to high-speed rail in the state—we hope to
be in a strong position to get our fair share,” Carrier said.
CSX, ESPA and Amtrak all said that they plan on continuing
communication with the state in the development and implementation
of the rail plan.
fact that we have this rail plan now fits into a very activist
period in terms of rail service in this state—both passenger
rail and freight rail.” Carrier said. “This is an interesting
time for railroads.”
to Albany’s Washington Park should have an improved view this
The Washington Park Conservancy has just received a $250 grant
from the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region’s
Charles M. Kiddle III and Nancy H. Liddle Fund, to use as
the conservancy sees fit, conservancy president Frances Ingraham
are going to use it toward trees,” Heins said. “We lost some
very valuable trees in the [January] ice storm.”
The city also recently removed from the park a trailer belonging
to the Police Athletic League, which had been used in connection
with PAL’s annual Capital Holiday Lights display in the park,
said Robert Van Amburgh, a spokesman for Albany Mayor Jerry
Jennings. The trailer had been parked next to the Lakehouse,
and the conservancy members felt that it diminished the view.
The next project the city will tackle—also in response to
complaints by the conservancy—will be the removal of the so-called
“staging areas” from the park. The city had started storing
road supplies, trucks and maintenance equipment in two places
in the park—behind the playground, and on a scenic overlook
above the lake—on the contention that staff shortages made
it too difficult for work crews to make repeated trips back
and forth from the Department of General Services headquarters
to replenish supplies.
The city had already agreed to remove one staging area and
restore the heavily gouged ground, but Jennings had said it
was unlikely that the city could remove the second one. The
best that could be done, the mayor said a month ago, was to
move the staging area to a less visible sight.
Now, the city has told the conservancy that it will remove
the second staging area by next year and not put any others
in the park.
The Albany Corporation Counsel is still reviewing the conservancy’s
request for an environmental impact review of the park, Van
Amburgh said. Jennings has said he is agreeable to having
the review done, but details for that project, including a
time frame, have not yet been announced.
Mayor, Tear Down This Sign
Common Council President Shawn Morris was surrounded by boosters
Sunday as she announced her candidacy for mayor. Morris pledged
that, if elected, she will bring transparency and accountability
back to the office, something that she said has been lacking
for 15 years. There is a sign in front of the mayor’s office
that warns: “No Walk Ins.” “Mr. Mayor, I challenge you to
take down that sign, that symbol of a locked-door government,”
she said. “Because I assure you, it will be gone on January
loose ends this week-