The LIRR & Grand Central Terminal
The cost for MTA LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal just went up by another billion. So what else is new? Since 2001, the total direct cost for MTA East Side Access has grown from $3.5 billion to $4.3 billion in 2003, $6.3 billion in 2006, $8.4 billion in 2012, $10.2 billion in 2014 and now $11.2 billion in 2018 (plus $600 million more in financing costs) in 2018. I predict $12 and $13 billion in direct costs when finally completed. This does not include four billion more for indirect costs carried off line from the official project budget.
Other projects such as $2.6 billion Main Line Third Track, $450 million Jamaica Capacity, $387 million Ronkonkoma Double Track, $120 million Ronkonkoma Yard Expansion, $44 million Great Neck Pocket Track just to name a few support direct implementation of East Side Access. Based upon past history, the final cost will go up again over time by a billion or more. The anticipated opening day for passenger revenue service date has slipped on a number of occasions from 2009 to December 2023 date.
A detailed project risk assessment by the Federal Transit Administration independent engineer as part of the FTA–MTA 2016 amended Full Funding Grant Agreement predicted the final cost could be up to $12 billion.
The MTA has repeatedly increased the budget by billions and pushed back the first day of service by thirteen years.
A cat has nine lives and this project long ago already used all of them. When it comes to completion of East Side Access, the 1960’s LIRR motto “Line of the Dashing Dan” in 2018 should be changed to “Line of the Slow Moving Sloth.”
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.)
Stimulating the Palestinian Economy
First you must know that I am an ardent Zionist. Everything I will say after this is predicated on the love of the Jewish people and of Israel. So here we go.
I believe that most people simply want to live their lives in peace, earning enough money to feed themselves, their wife and their family and perhaps have some money left over for some enjoyment. Being hungry, not having a job is a recipe for problems. I remember in the early 80’s, the United States and more specifically, the New York area was going thru a recession.
The people who were most affected were the uneducated minorities. They had no financial cushion. As a result of being hungry, they broke into buildings to steal copper wiring and plumbing to get enough money to feed themselves. Not a good situation.
This is the plight of many Palestinians. The West Bank has in excess of 35% unemployment. What are they to do. Indeed, some of them are so desperate that they volunteer to be suicide bombers in exchange for $25,000.
So my thinking has been evolving. My first thought was to do micro- financing. Help the Palestinians establish a business of their own where they could then employ other people who then would go out and spend money by purchase all sorts of things. By doing this other businesses would grow thereby enabling the Palestinian economy to grow.
My next thought was similar to the Marshall plan whereby Israel and/or the United States etc. would help build/rebuild the Palestinian economy. After all, it worked for Germany and Japan where after the war, America came in and helped rebuild their economies where today Germany and Japan are two of Americas closest allies today. The Palestinian man I am dealing with, Sam Bahour (look him up) didn’t pick up on this idea.
We then began to talk about skills that the Palestinians have i.e. software development, programming , furniture manufacturing, tile and marble textiles etc. I began to think about ways of marketing skills like this into the United States. After all, for two of our companies, my son Jason used software development people from Russia. After some conversation Sam mentioned that there is an accomplished furniture manufacturing industry there. I said-great- this is something specific and I felt/feel that I know how to market this into the United States. We are currently getting brochures on what type of furniture they manufacture and what is their capacity to manufacture in quantity .
Another conversation that Sam and I had involved water to Janine. Although there are restrictions on drilling wells, there are no restrictions on water conservation, recycling or water purification. 80% of all the water used in cities in Israel is recycled and then used for irrigation. Until recently (the last 10-15 years) Israel did not have desalination. All it’s growth was supported by water conservation etc. This is something that we’re now looking into.
It is my hope, my dream and my belief that when people are satisfied with their lives, have water to drink and food to eat they’re not like to want war. There are three levels- WAR, PEACE AND NON-WAR. Certainly I hope and pray for Peace but if this brings about non-war so be it.
Calling for BiPartisan Support of Israel
For American Jews of the Democrat political persuasion, last week’s opening of our new Embassy in Jerusalem should have been a wake up call. In fact, the alarms bells should have gone off big time to the fact that not one, not one, Democrat-Jewish elected official turned up at the scene. Not one real time or former senator, congressperson, governor or dogcatcher flew over there to be part of the festivities that were over 2000 year in the making. It’s time for American Jewish rank and file Democrats to wake up. The handwriting is on the wall. The Democrat party and its Jewish leaders, both elected and run of the mill community leaders have turned the corner on Israel and on the fight for Jewish survival in our own country.
Chuck Schumer did not attend. He uttered a tongue in cheek congratulatory comment to President Trump but this camera hugger did not travel to Jerusalem because he really didn’t want to stand with Israel. Remember, this guy was the initial supporter of Israel/Jew hating radical Muslim congressman Keith Ellison to run the Democrat Party. And where were Debbie Schultz, Jerrold Nadler, Dianne Feinstein, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Steve Cohen, Jan Schakowsky, Alan Lowenfeld, Bernie Sanders and Richard Blumenthal on this glorious day for Jews who love Israel?
Jewish Democrats had better wake up before it’s too late. They assume that by shedding their “Jewish” image they will be accepted by the radical Left that basically despises them but uses them for their own purposes. Time is running out.