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And Spitzer Wonders, Still He Wonders, Who'll Drain the Rain

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It was a rough day for the MTA. And at a press conference this afternoon Eliot Spitzer revealed just how bad. The subway system is designed to drain up to an inch and a half of rainfall, he said; this storm inundated it with three inches in a frenzied hour. That made for what Spitzer said "is supposed to be a highly unusual event" — except for one thing: It's the third time this year that's happened. The puddling problem wasn't this morning's only calamity — MTA executive director Lee Sander later cited a downed tree near Stillwell Avenue and smoke in tunnels — but it was the most severe. At the governor's insistence, the MTA will take 30 days, or thereabouts, to research how it might bolster the drains. When it's announced, expect a round of wrangling among MTA leaders, state legislators, unions, and the rest. And perhaps buy yourself a kayak. —Alec Appelbaum

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A Brooklyn Cyclone?

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To recap: Every subway line was at some point today affected by the rain, and at midday the majority of lines were still in bad shape, according to Sewell Chan at the Times' City Room blog. Buses were packed, commuters were pissed, and, in a delightful little detail, the MTA's press office was hugely understaffed because all but one of its employees were stuck trying to get to work. There were major delays at all three airports. Four thousand Con Ed customers lost power. A woman was killed in what the Times is calling a "storm-related car accident" on Staten Island. And, perhaps most fascinating, there may have been a tornado in Bay Ridge. No fun. (But amazing photos.) Flooding Cripples Subway System [City Room/NYT]

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Further Adventures in Decrepit Infrastructure: MTA-in-the-Rain Edition

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As you may have noticed, it is raining today. Rather heavily, even. And so, naturally, as Daily Intel's Bushwick-residing photo editor sends a text message to report, the B, D, F, V, 4, 5, and 6 trains aren't running. The MTA Website also reports major problems on the 1, 2, 3, A, C, E, L, N, R, J, Q trains and on the 42nd Street Shuttle. (We think that leaves the 7 and the G as the only trains operating properly.) Don't you just love our aging infrastructure? Service Alert [MTA]

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756*

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• Juror Bloomberg is back at his day job — and he's brokered a deal with Albany that will require more developers in more neighborhoods to include low-income housing in their projects. Spitzer's likely to sign. [NYT]

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Disneyfied Subway Station Objectionable, Adorable

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So there's this cockamamy idea that the MTA could raise money by selling Disney the rights the advertise however the company sees fit in the Times Square station. "I would rather try to sell 42nd Street's subway system underground to Disney for $60 million a year and have them paint it any way that they want to paint it," board member Norman Seabrook suggested. We noticed this in the morning, and because we're sort of opposed to the proliferation of advertising into every corner of life, and because we think there's something untoward about selling public facilities to corporate sponsors, and just because we're crotchety and don't like change, we were against it. But then we saw the cute little logo Gothamist came up with for the combination — it's a Mouseketeers hat! On the MTA logo! Ha! — and we should say we're now sort of smitten. Mickey Mouse for MTA? [Gothamist]

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Bruno's Turn

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• With the Spitzer camp circling the wagons, it's Joe Bruno's hour, and he's taking full advantage of it: The State Senate leader called for multiple investigations into the administration, vowing, "This is not going to go away." [NYP]

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Hallelujah! More Subway Trains Are Coming!

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The MTA plans to add more service on the 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and L trains as soon as next year, the agency announced at a packed board meeting this morning. The Broadway and Lexington Avenue lines will get more evening service, the 7 more weekend service, and the L more trains at all times, plus two high-speed bus routes. The usual warnings of budget shortfalls and potential fare hikes were issued, and MTA executive director Lee Sander said the agency will have to crunch some numbers before it can determine exactly how many trains will be added.

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A Spitzer Stonewall?

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• The Spitzer mess is getting, well, messier. Turns out two of guv’s closest aides, including his chief of staff (who still has his job), stonewalled Cuomo’s probe, which doesn’t quite jibe with Spitzer’s claims of full cooperation. [NYP] • Police-shooting victim Sean Bell’s fiancée and two friends have sued the NYPD for wrongful death, civil-rights violations, false arrest, and emotional distress; the suit names all five officers who were on the scene, including two who were cleared of wrongdoing. [Reuters] • Because more than 24 hours have passed without any agonizing over Bloomberg’s presidential plans and how they might affect the race, you’ll be happy to know he’s registered the domain mike2008.com (while continuing to maintain full deniability). [NYDN] • Shocker: The new MTA budget will call for subway fare and toll increases. We don’t know by how much yet, but they want to raise the revenue by 6.5 percent; do your own worst-case-scenario math. [NYT] • And the city’s cab drivers are finalizing citywide strike plans for September, over those pesky GPS tracking systems the city wants to install in every cab. We think we’ll just stay home. [amNY]

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Behold the Power of Crumbling Infrastructure

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• Families of 9/11 victims are upset — are the families of 9/11 victims ever not upset? — because the city plans to commemorate the attacks' sixth anniversary in the small Zuccotti park. Instead of, you know, in the middle of a giant construction site. [amNY]

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Can't We Just Blame Everyone?

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• With Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan dead, the finger-pointing begins in earnest. Mayor Mike decries Albany's lack of "guts" while state officials accuse the mayor of springing a fully formed proposal on them at the last possible moment. [NYT]

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You Wanna Buy a Rail Yard?

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So, once again: Any takers for the West Side rail yards? You know, the 26 acres of relative wasteland along Eleventh Avenue, from 30th to 33rd Street? The state and the yards' current owner, the MTA, formally announced today that it will be accepting bids for the whole shebang. The part of the offering that City Hall will like: twelve acres of greenery and a "cultural center." The part the developers will like: residential "skyscrapers up to 70 stories tall." The usual suspects are expected to come a-courting: Tishman Speyer, Brookfield, the Durst Organization, and Vornado (the last two working in concert). And the part that we find immensely curious: The buyers will be required to submit separate bids "with" and "without" the High Line, a stretch of which grazes the yards. Which means, in essence, that nobody — least of all the sellers — has any idea whatsoever how that one will play out. Bids to Be Sought for West Side Railyards [NYT]

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Swimmer Stranded*

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Yes, the blackout yesterday sucked. But it could have been worse: You could have been trying to get home to Westchester. *Yes, yes. This used to be headlined "Rabbit Stranded." It was early and we were tired and we mixed up our Updike and our Cheever. Sorry.

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Going Your Way, Slowly

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• Breaking news! After a comprehensive study, the MTA can now tell you that numbered subway lines are overcrowded, and that Lex lines often run behind schedule. (Who knew?) Apparently there's nothing officials can really do about it, as those lines are already operating at capacity.

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Magical New Subway Cars Arrive on N, Q, Maybe Other Lines

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No, kids, you weren't just imagining that amazing subway ride you might have recently had on the N or Q train. ("It was like the fancy monorail in some German airport," gushed a New York editor who unexpectedly found herself on one such immaculate contraption.) Those two lines have been testing the new R160 car since last August, a New York City Transit spokesman confirmed to us, adding eight to ten a week. (The initial order was for 660; next week officials will push for another order of 620.)

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Surrender!

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• The fourth suspect in the alleged JFK pipeline plot is in custody. At the urging of a friend, Abdel Nur, 57, walked into a police station in Diego Martin, Trinidad, and turned himself in. [NYDN] • More surrenderings! Former assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr. and former State Supreme Court justice Gerald Garson, the main characters in a protracted judgeships-for-sale investigation, were sentenced yesterday. Both men left a Brooklyn courtroom in handcuffs, although Garson eked out a stay of his sentence. [NYT] • Ready for a $3 subway fare? By 2010, warns the Straphangers Campaign, the unlimited MetroCard will likely be $112 or, if the state coughs up some extra MTA cash, $92. But that's okay, because all our salaries will rise by 50 percent, too — right? Right? [amNY] • Gay marriage: bad for the baby Jesus, great for the economy. A new study by the city comptroller suggests that legalizing same-sex marriage would result in $142 million in economic benefits for NYC. [Crain's NY] • And Carla Katz, the Jersey union leader who's also, awkwardly, Governor Corzine's ex, tells all! In a Post exclusive! To Cindy Adams! Her big revelation: "There's absolutely nothing I have on Jon." [NYP]

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Bloomberg Wins Big Ally, Loses Councilman in Traffic Fight

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As the battle over congestion pricing builds toward hearings in the State Assembly at the end of this week, the MTA — a state agency not always on the same page as City Hall — is starting to look like a Bloomberg ally. At a hobnobbers' breakfast this morning, MTA chief Elliott Sander offered his warmest words yet for what he adroitly renamed "value pricing." Staring at potential operating deficits of more than $1 billion annually by 2010, Sander acknowledged the plan's alluring promise of revenue and predicted that his agency could "align demand with supply" to accommodate riders who ditch their cars.

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Broadway/Lafayette- Bleecker Combo Just the Start of F-Line Changes

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We picked up the news from 2nd Ave Sagas that the MTA is set to combine the Broadway/Lafayette and Bleecker Street stations, so you can transfer from the B/D/F/V to the 6 going both downtown and — this is the beauty part — uptown. But wait, as the disembodied voice says, there's more! This is just one part of a whole menu of subway projects for which the MTA is seeking $3.8 billion in federal funding. There's $37 million for the Broadway/Lafayette-Bleecker work, plus another $12.6 to make the combined stop ADA-compliant. There's $11 million to replace "historical arch canopies" over Fourth Avenue at the Smith-9th F stop "as per the National Register of Historic Places" — that means fixing the roof spanning the control houses at either end of the stop with original details— plus $23 million to fix lights and MetroCard collection at Smith-9th stop. There's planned work on the 6 in the Bronx, and on some stations in the Rockaways, as part of the proposal, too, but never mind that. With all this new F work, it'll be a nice ride to Park Slope. —Alec Appelbaum Notice of Public Hearing and Description of Projects [MTA, PDF] Earlier: The Subway Transfer We've All Been Waiting For

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What Does a $91 Million Train Station Look Like?

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Because there's news today that the new Metro-North station to be built at Yankee Stadium, set to open in spring 2009, will cost $91 million, twice its initial price tag, with the city kicking in some $39 million, and because we also like showing you renderings of construction projects under way throughout our fair city, we herewith present a sketch of the new station — that bridge on the right heads east from the station, above East 153rd Street, and lets fans off behind home plate of the current stadium, which will still leave them more than a few blocks from the new stadium — provided by the MTA. For what the thing costs, we hope the real one's at least in color. —Alec Appelbaum Next Stop: Yanks [Metro NY]

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On the L Train, Survival of the Thinnest

Finally, an evolutionary explanation for the overwhelming skinniness of the Williamsburg hipster, as identified through various statistics cited in "For Less Crowding on L Train, Think 2010, Report Says" in today's Times: • Riders passing through the Bedford Street L station in 2006: 4.99 million • Riders passing through the Bedford Street L station in 1995: 2.09 million • Increase in riders passing through the Bedford Street L station in that period: 139 percent • Rank of the L train among 22 subways lines for likelihood of getting a seat at rush hour, according to the Straphangers Campaign's annual report card: 20

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