Letters to the Editor
To The Editor:
With Santorum suspending his campaign Mitt Romney seems assured to be the Republican nominee for president. Romney’s ads have already shifted as has his rhetoric attacking Obama. The 2012 Presidential race is on.
Romney claims that Obama is responsible for women suffering the most during the economic downturn. The negative ads that will consume the airwaves between now and November will alienate voters, with many of them concluding a pox on both candidates. The Obama team will replay gaffs by Romney that Santorum and Gingrich played upon.
The issues that must be confronted by America which will determine the welfare of the nation for years to come appear to be the very issues that neither side seems interested in discussing. The Ryan Budget passed by the Republican-controlled House will fundamentally change social programs and financing. The Buffet Rule sought by the President has little chance of being enacted. Romney and Obama will run on and fight against proposals that are unlikely to ever see the light of day.
America is facing a transitional time with millions of Baby Boomers retiring, enjoying extended life expectancies and with national budgets and deficits posing threats to our future. Nations that were Third World have emerged as economic powerhouses that will compete with American economic dominance. China’s growing economic and military strength is bolstered by their jingoism. Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan are strategic issues that require debate and bipartisanism.
At a time that Americans are more fully informed than ever before the presidential campaign promises nothing more than rhetoric to rally their rabid supporters while causing independents to toss a coin to decide the future of the nation.
To The Editor:
I have reluctantly concluded that the economic, political, and cultural challenges we face may never be resolved. The truth about our country’s condition and prognosis is not reported by the media and is often misstated, obfuscated, or distorted. In addition to the uninformed, there are many who dismiss criticism of the administration as mean-spirited, bigoted and even racist. Few consider 16 trillion dollars of national debt and the unsustainable obligations of Social Security and Medicare—a crisis portending economic calamity. How can we save our republic when there is no consensus that there is even a problem?
To make matters worse, there are those who will tolerate bureaucratic coerciveness as long as it meets their needs and agenda. To wit: there is no provision in the Constitution for unelected “czars”. Eventually a new mob of bureaucrats will institute their notion of benevolence and the cycle repeats ad infinitum. There can be no doubt our republic has succumbed to the rule of men and abandoned the rule of law.
The Constitution is not a document that limits the rights of man, but a document that limits the power of government over man. Intellectual honesty demands we recognize that without the constraints of the Constitution, we are subject to mob rule. There can be no agreement, no “reaching across the aisle”, no accommodation with those who reject the tenets of the Constitution. How does one negotiate with thieves who believe private wealth is community property and must be redistributed?
One may reject my propositions but the fact remains that nothing will be solved until we see we have problems.
What About The Lusitania?
To The Editor:
We hear a lot about the Titanic today. It was a tragic accident, to be sure, but the story of the Lusitania is much more interesting, tragic and sinister to say the least.
The sinking of this passenger ship in 1915 was one reason for America entering World War 1. The details of the ship’s sinking should help in understanding America’s involvement in today’s perpetual wars.
Also, the ship’s construction and destruction is something to behold. The information is out there for anyone to research as did Colin Simpson in his book, The Lusitania.
Frank St George
East Rockaway, NY
Best Candidate Ignored
To The Editor:
As a reader who has followed your reporting on the imminent election here, I write to share information that has been missing in your coverage. Your readers deserve to know that Representative Ron Paul offers the only responsible choice for restoring our state and nation to greatness.
While both President Obama and Governor Romney have supported bailouts and unaffordable healthcare plans, only Ron Paul has stood steadfast in his commitment to free enterprise. Paul will eliminate our foreign entanglements that have plundered American blood and treasure. And only Paul is committed to ending the “nanny state” that seeks to have government dictate every aspect of our lives. Our economy and our country can only be restored when government gives individuals back responsibility for their own lives.
I urge everyone reading this to vote for Ron Paul.
New Lines Costly
To The Editor:
Diogenes has ended his search to find an honest Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman. Give MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota full credit for openly talking about what no elected official or major transportation agency manager has been brave enough to say in public. There is virtually no chance of extending the New York City Transit No. 7 subway from the Javits Convention Center to New Jersey anytime soon. Due to financial constraints and other competing priorities between today and the end of this decade, it may be many more years beyond 2020 before a real conversation can take place for this proposed project. Consider that in the past, construction of any major new freight, tunnel or bridge project has taken decades to go from feasibility studies, environmental reviews, plans, designs, engineers, real estate acquisitions, permits, procurements, construction, budgets and funds prior to opening day service.
The current No. 7 subway extension from Times Square to the Javits Convention Center is under construction. The original cost of the overall project was $2.1 and and is now $2.4 billion, not counting the subway station that had to be dropped from the original scope of work along with additional subway cars necessary to provide revenue service on opening day. No one could find $500 million to cover the proposed new subway station to be built at 42nd Street and 10th Avenue. This station was part of the original project scope. One method used by transit agencies to complete any project within budget, is to drop a portion of the original scope of work. This saves the necessary dollars which were not available to deliver 100 percent of what was originally promised. How would anyone find $10 billion more for the No. 7 subway extension from the Javits Convention Center to New Jersey Transit’s Secaucus Junction station by Exit 15X on the New Jersey Turnpike? (Even if you were to split the cost 50/50 between New York and New Jersey, each party would have to come up with $5 billion). The same would be true to develop a $5 billion funding package to build an alternative extension of the No. 7 subway to the PATH/New Jersey Transit Station in Hoboken, New Jersey.
There is ongoing competition within the Metropolitan New York area for potentially $50 billion-plus needed to fund major capital improvements. Millions to billions more could be necessary by the time any project is completed and the true final costs are accounted for. Everyone has their own priority wish list which in many cases conflicts with others who have different agendas.
Current major capital construction projects underway include the Long Island Rail Road East Side Access project. This will provide riders a direct connection to Grand Central Terminal at a cost of $8 billion.
Next is the first of four segments for the new Second Avenue Subway consisting of three stations between 96th Street and 63rd Street at a cost of $4.5 billion.
Some predict between $16 to $20 billion more could be required if you include an express track for completion of the next three segments of the Second Avenue Subway north to 125th Street and south to Water Street downtown in the Financial District.
How do we find $14 billion to fund Amtrak’s proposed Gateway project for construction of a new tunnel providing additional access to Penn Station from New Jersey for Amtrak and perhaps New Jersey Transit?”
There is a new estimate of $5 billion for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge. This could rise to $14 - $18 billion based on previous estimates if you add either Bus Rapid Transit, light rail or heavy commuter rail capacity.
Then $5 billion to $10 billion for construction of a new Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, which would put trucks on trains between New Jersey to either Brooklyn or Queens through to Long Island.
Next, there is the proposed $1.5 billion LIRR Main Line Third Track. This would provide additional rush hour and reverse service capacity in the mornings and evenings for those who live in the city and either work or attend college on Long Island for several key LIRR branches including Port Jefferson, Huntington, Oyster Bay and Ronkonkoma running between Floral Park and Hicksville stations. There is also a connection from Montauk, Speonk and Babylon via a spur between Babylon and Hicksville for access to this corridor.
Don’t forget $400 million to complete double tracking on the LIRR Ronkonkoma Line between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma. This was dropped in the 1980s during electrification of this branch as a way to save money. It would have cost a lot less to complete this work decades ago rather than today.
The proposed Metro North Rail Road access to Penn Station which would include construction of several new stations in The Bronx could easily cost over $1 billion.
Several hundred million to restore service along the LIRR Rockaway branch, also known as the White Pot Junction Line that was abandoned in the 1950s. This route started off as a spur from the LIRR mainline east of Woodside at Rego Park running to Ozone Park connecting to the “A” line subway near Aqueduct Racetrack. If fully reinstated to its original route, it could also provide a direct connection to the proposed Genting Americas Convention Center.
Several hundred million for restoration of the old Staten Island North Shore Rail line, which was abandoned in the 1950s, provided direct service to the St. George, Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Another alternative is to extend the existing New Jersey Transit Hudson/Bergen Light Rail line from the current 8th Street Station terminus to continue southward across the Bayonne Bridge to Staten Island. There are other lower hanging fruit beyond this list that should also cost under $1 billion.
Many of the estimated costs for these proposed projects are based upon planning feasibility studies and/or environmental documents with little design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any actual construction costs. They will be refined as projects progress beyond the planning and environmental phases into real and final design efforts. Value engineering which is a process used to reduce costs will be used during the final design phase. Unfortunately, history has shown that estimated costs for construction usually trend upwards as projects mature toward 100 percent final design. Progression of final design refines the detailed scope of work necessary to support construction. The anticipated final potential cost for many of these projects will never be known until completion. Costs will be further refined by award of construction contracts followed by any unforeseen site conditions and change orders to the base contracts during the course of construction.
History has told us that construction of most major new transportation system expansion projects has taken decades until completion of feasibility studies, environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements, construction, budgeting, identifying and securing funding to pay for all of the above.
Construction for the Second Avenue Subway began in the 1960s. (Bond money intended for this project in the 1950s was spent elsewhere). The latest completion date for the first segment of three stations between 63rd and 96th Streets on the Upper East Side of Manhattan has slipped to 2016. Construction for the original tunnel to support bringing the Long Island Rail Road from Queens into Grand Central Station began in the 1960s. The latest, revised opening day revenue service date is now forecast for 2018.
It is difficult for anyone at this point to really predict when we will see a shovel in the ground for many of these other new proposals, followed years later by beneficial use of projects supporting opening day service or the final price tag to taxpayers.
Perhaps our region needs to prioritize the order for implementation of these projects based upon realistic assumptions for available funding along with benefits based upon dollar invested per rider.