Monday, November 24, 2014

The Beauty of ‘Infrastructure’ - WSJ

The Beauty of ‘Infrastructure’ - WSJ: "What are some of the most ambitious infrastructure projects under way in the U.S.?

 I take a broad view of the term infrastructure—not just big civil-engineering projects such as bridges and highways but all of the technological systems that support modern civilization. Given this definition, I think one could make a strong case that the biggest project is the ongoing expansion and replacement of the communications network, driven by the adoption of Internet standards and cellular-telephone technology. It’s really quite amazing. It took almost 100 years to wire the country the first time, with copper wires strung on wood poles for the first telegraph and telephone networks. We’ve torn all that down and replaced it at least three times, first with microwaves, then with satellites, then with optical fibers.

In terms of more conventional infrastructure, I would point to the dredging and refitting of ports up and down the East Coast to accommodate the new “post-Panamax” container ships. Perhaps the most dramatic example is in New York, where we need to raise the deck of the Bayonne Bridge to let the taller ships pass under it to the docks in Newark and Elizabeth, N.J."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bigger and Bigger | Working Harbor Committee

Bigger and Bigger | Working Harbor Committee: "The largest container ships in the world just keep getting bigger."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bayonne Bridge construction: Port Authority, city officials issue updates |

Bayonne Bridge construction: Port Authority, city officials issue updates | "The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has released another series of updates on the ongoing $1.3 billion "Raise the Roadway" project on the Bayonne Bridge, according to Bayonne city officials.

The construction project, which began in May 2013 and is slated to be completed by 2017, is designed to raise the navigational clearance under the crossing to 215 feet to allow larger, modern ships to travel under it. The project will also provide commuters with a modern roadway with 12-foot lanes and a 12-foot shared lane for bicyclists and pedestrians."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bayonne Bridge Update | The City of Bayonne, NJ

Bayonne Bridge Update | The City of Bayonne, NJ: "Mayor Jimmy Davis announced that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has advised the City of Bayonne concerning the latest developments in the Bayonne Bridge construction project."

Toll hike on Staten Island Port Authority bridges set for Dec. 7 |

Toll hike on Staten Island Port Authority bridges set for Dec. 7 | "In what has become a grim holiday tradition, the Port Authority will soon roll out more toll hikes.

For the fourth year in a row, Dec. 7 will mark another set of fare increases at the Goethals and Bayonne bridges and the Outerbridge Crossing.

The new rates will include a 75-cent hike for E-ZPass users and a $1 increase for those who pay the cash toll. Those increases will bring the off-peak E-ZPass toll to $9.75; the peak E-ZPass toll to $11.75 and the cash fare to $14."

Bayonne Bridge 'traffic holds' scheduled for Thursday and Friday: Port Authority |

Bayonne Bridge 'traffic holds' scheduled for Thursday and Friday: Port Authority | "Motorists going over the Bayonne Bridge will experience periodic 20-minute traffic holds this Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the website of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[SLIDESHOW] Construction gets underway at Staten Island Port Authority bridge | Construction Global

[SLIDESHOW] Construction gets underway at Staten Island Port Authority bridge | Construction Global: "The arduous task on the Bayonne Bridge will involve moving 150-ton slabs of concrete up and over the road an into their foundation along the bridge approach. These pre-cast slabs will serve as the taller support piers for the new, higher roadway of the Bayonne Bridge."

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Bayonne Bridge | American Elephants

The Bayonne Bridge | American Elephants: "In his newest book, The Rule of Nobody, Philip K. Howard uses the Bayonne Bridge as an example. It spans in a single graceful arch, the Kill Van Kull, a narrow channel that connects New York Harbor to the port of Newark, the largest port on the East Coast. The new generation of container ships, designed to pass through the newly widened Panama Canal require clearance of 215 feet. The Bayonne Bridge was 151 feet above the water. In 2008 the engineers turned in the solutions— a new bridge or a tunnel — to the Port Authority of NY & NJ. Each would cost more than $4 billion.

The project manager gulped and asked the engineers if the present bridge could not be retrofitted? The engineers came back in a few months and said yes, a new roadway could be constructed within the existing span, ½ at a time to keep the roads open, for a cost of $1 billion, a savings of $3 billion. That was 2009. By 2013 the Port still lacked approvals to start construction. Timing was important for the canal would reopen in 2015. No government official had the authority to appoint a lead agency.

A lead agency can issue a “finding of no significant impact” (FONSI) to deal with the environmental assessment. Letters went to a long list of possible “lead agencies,” but after another year, only the Coast Guard was left. Because of a federal regulation about a “navigable waterway,” there was a long list of approvals: an historic buildings survey, Native American tribes approval, The Eastern Environmental Law Center objected to possible second-level effects. More efficient ships might make the port more successful, quality of life, increased truck traffic. The EPA got involved. In 2012, president Obama declared the Bridge as one of seven essential port projects and committed to completing all permit decisions by April 2013. Who said that was final?

The average length of environmental review for highway projects is eight years. A project for a bridge one mile south has taken about 10 years. We desperately need a new electrical grid, but the government is incapable of making the decisions necessary to complete it. We are warned of the dangers of a potential EMP attack, and need to harden the grid, but there is no movement to do so.

Our federal government is always very busy creating new laws and regulations, but it is very bad at eliminating laws or regulations. They stay on the books and direct the work of millions of bureaucrats at millions of bureaucratic desks. Congress likes to make big general laws which they can brag about, but doesn’t like the nitty-gritty of ironing out all the fine points, legalities and consequences. They turn that over to the agencies, which is clearly not a satisfactory solution. See HHS, EPA, VA, IRS,  NSA, TSA, and a few hundred other agencies.

Philip  Howard explained: “The process is not aimed at trying to solve problems, but aimed at trying to find problems. You can’t get into trouble by saying no. With any large project something might go wrong. More studies are done.”"

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