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News Wrap: PANYNJ's Big Capital Plan; NTSB on Metro-North Crash; NYC Starts Improve; STV Buys GWD

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Image Courtesy of PANYNJ
Bridging the Gulf: The Goethals Bridge replacement is one of several projects included in the Port Authority's 10-year capital plan.
Photo Courtesy of MTA Capital Constructionn/Rehema Trimiew
Seeing the Light: The East Side Access tunnels project is one of the $1 billion in mass transit projects that were initiated last year.
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New York-New Jersey

Port Authority's $27.6B Capital Plan Approved

The board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) approved the agency's 10-year, $27.6-billion capital plan on Feb. 19, following a two-week public comment period. The plan, which covers 2014 through 2023, includes numerous major projects, such as the raising of the Bayonne Bridge and the New Jersey PATH extension to Newark Liberty International Airport.

"The Port Authority's operations, engineering and finance staffs have worked painstakingly for more than a year to craft a capital plan to address critical infrastructure issues in a timely and cost-effective manner," said Pat Foye, Port Authority executive director, in a statement.

About 46%, or $12.7 billion, of total plan spending targets state-of-good-repair work to maintain existing assets. The plan also provides for $1 billion of spending over 10 years to pay for post-Superstorm Sandy repair, mitigation and resiliency projects.

Other work included in the plan is the Central Terminal Building redevelopment at LaGuardia Airport, the Goethals Bridge replacement project, a PATH signal system upgrade and the Lincoln Tunnel Helix reconstruction.

The agency is "committed to revitalizing the region's aging transportation infrastructure in a smart, cost-effective and efficient manner that allows us to get the most out of every dollar we invest," says Deborah Gramiccioni, PANYNJ deputy executive director.

New York

NTSB: Metro-North Should Add Cameras, Signs

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a series of safety recommendations to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Metro-North Railroad. The move follows an ongoing investigation into the December 1 train derailment in the Bronx that killed four people and injured dozens of others (ENR New York, Jan. 27/Feb. 3, p. 7).

NTSB is calling for the use of inward- and outward-facing audio and image recorders and the installation of so-called approach permanent speed restrictions signs along the rights of way.

"The images and audio captured by recorders can be invaluable to our investigators," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman in a statement. "Understanding what is happening inside the cab just prior to the crash can provide crucial information about how to prevent future accidents."

The safety board says it has been calling for these recorders since 2007 and previously made recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration and other railroads regarding the matter. It says that investigators have learned that Metro-North had posted signs for temporary speed restrictions throughout its rail property but that it did not use signage for permanent speed restriction areas including where the accident occurred.

Since the derailment, however, Metro-North has installed signage to aid operating crews at four locations with permanent speed restrictions, including the derailment area, the agency says.

New York City

Public Works Sector Boosts NYC's Starts 11%

Construction starts in New York City's public works sector rose a whopping 82% to $4.3 billion last year compared with 2012, due largely to the start of initial contracts on three major metro bridge projects—the Goethals, Bayonne and Verrazano-Narrows spans, according to a New York Building Congress (NYBC) study.

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