February 16, 2019

Feds discuss plans for aging northeast rail line

NEW YORK (AP) — Rail travelers would be able to speed from Washington, D.C. to Boston at 220 mph and people on Long Island would take a tunnel straight to Connecticut and points north rather than go through New York City under some of the more ambitious long-range plans described by federal rail officials Wednesday to remake the beleaguered Northeast Corridor.

The 457-mile corridor is the busiest commuter rail line in the country and the site of regular and often lengthy delays on Amtrak and regional lines such as New Jersey Transit, due to 100-year-old infrastructure and crowded tracks.

At Wednesday’s open house, the Federal Railroad Administration laid out its vision for expanding service and making existing service more efficient. The three groups of projects presented, contained in a report released this month, were culled from an original list of 98 individual proposals that was then winnowed down to 15.

All three scenarios factor in new rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York, a contentious issue that reached a boiling point four years ago when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled the plug on a $9 billion tunnel project, citing potential cost overruns. Amtrak, which owns the tracks along the Northeast Corridor, is seeking funding for a new tunnel project that is at least 10 years away.

While work on aging infrastructure up and down the corridor would proceed regardless of the fate of a new tunnel, the expanded capacity it would provide would be crucial to any of the major projects, said Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, FRA project manager for the Northeast Corridor.

“What we can do is account for the immediate infrastructure needs in this process, so that it all fits together,” she said. “Building tunnels is not an easy task, but at least if we can all kind of shepherd around the same goal, we can get there. It’s going to a take a while, but if we can at least get the groundwork through this and through the environmental work that has to be done for the tunnels, we can at least start to get the wheels turning.”

The three proposals include features such as a tunnel to connect stations on Long Island to the Connecticut coastline for service to Providence and Boston; a “second spine” alongside the current Northeast Corridor tracks that would carry high-speed rail at speeds of 220 mph, and new service between New York and Boston that would serve Hartford, Springfield and Worcester, Massachusetts.

Currently, Amtrak lines split in New Haven, with Boston-bound trains heading up the coast and most inland trains terminating at Springfield.

Also, new tracks would bypass several movable bridges between southeastern Connecticut and Rhode Island that currently contribute to slowdowns due to capacity and speed restrictions.

A fourth proposal, called “no action,” calls for maintaining service at current levels through 2040.

The plans are in the very preliminary stages. Within the next year, more public comment will be solicited on the proposals and a draft environmental impact study on proposals will be released in fall 2015.

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Feds discuss plans for aging northeast rail line

Athletics-Kenya's Kipsang, Keitany win NYC Marathon crowns

* Kipsang edged Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa by 11 seconds

* Keitany finished three seconds ahead of closest pursuer (Adds quotes, details official times)

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK, Nov 2 (Reuters) – Wilson Kipsang won a lucrative duel to the finish to join compatriot Mary Keitany in a Kenyan sweep of the men’s and women’s races at a cold, windy New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Kipsang and Keitany both pulled away in the last Central Park stretch, with Kipsang’s victory bringing him a $600,000 payday as the win also gave him the $500,000 World Marathon Majors bonus.

“Of course I was thinking about it,” Kipsang said about the bonus. “My only chance to win the jackpot was to win this race. I was trying to apply all the tactics to make sure I would win.”

With temperatures around 42 degrees Fahrenheit (6 Celsius) and wind gusting to 40 miles per hour (64 kph), some 50,000 runners set off in the world’s largest marathon on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island.

Runners wore ski hats or head bands over their ears and some pulled on sleeves or knee-high socks to deal with the elements that eased during the course of the 26.2-mile (42.2 km) race.

Conditions led to deliberate, tactical races that did not see the leading packs break up until after the 20-mile mark.

Kipsang, the London Marathon champion running the New York race for the first time, ran shoulder to shoulder with Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia over the last few miles.

In the final half mile, Desisa snuck ahead of Kipsang, who turned on a final burst to claim victory.

Kipsang crossed the finish line in two hours 10 minutes 55 seconds to win the $100,000 first-place price and catapult past compatriot Dennis Kimetto to win the massive bonus.

Desisa, the 2013 Boston Marathon winner, who said he felt discomfort from missing a bathroom stop, faded at the last and finished 11 seconds behind Kipsang, with fellow Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam, the 2010 New York champion, third in 2:12:13.

Keitany won an exhilarating duel with compatriot Jemima Sumgong to claim the women’s crown.

The 2012 London Marathon winner, whose best New York showing was third place in 2011, edged ahead of Sumgong in the last two miles of the race that covers all five New York City boroughs.

Keitany, whose best New York showing was third place in 2011, widened her lead at the end as she crossed the line in 2:25:07, three seconds ahead of Sumgong in tying the closest women’s finish in the New York race.

The winner started her push at the 20-mile mark.

“I knew we still have only five miles to go. So I say let me push in and dig in in order to be in good position,” said Keitany.

Said Sumgong: “My target was to win, but it was Mary’s day.”

Portugal’s marathon debutante Sara Moreira finished third in 2:26:00.

Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who finished her season last week ranked eighth in the world, completed her first marathon in 3:26:33 while running for a charity that benefits youth runners. (Editing by Frank Pingue)


Athletics-Kenya's Kipsang, Keitany win NYC Marathon crowns

NBA commissioner, ex-stars in NYC Marathon relay

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will run the first three miles of the New York City Marathon on Sunday as part of a 24-person relay of basketball luminaries.

Dikembe Mutombo will cross the finish line for the group, which is trying to encourage kids to exercise.

Silver said Monday that he will run over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island to Brooklyn then pass a baton to Chris Mullin, the Brooklyn native who starred at St. John’s in Queens before a Hall of Fame NBA career.

Mullin, now an executive with the Sacramento Kings, will be followed by a long list of big-name players to cover the 26.2 miles.

Most also have local ties, including Bronx native and fellow Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald; Knicks greats Charles Oakley, Bernard King and Allan Houston; the Nets’ Darryl Dawkins; Brooklyn native Sam Perkins; and New York City high school legends Felipe Lopez and Albert King.

Also running is Jason Collins, who made history last season with the Nets as the first openly gay player in the four major North American pro sports leagues.

WNBA stars Swin Cash, Teresa Edwards, Ruth Riley and Katie Smith are on the relay along with players-turned-NBA TV analysts Greg Anthony and Steve Smith.

Rounding out the group are executives from the league, Knicks and Nets and broadcaster Mike Breen.

Each celebrity will be joined on his or her one-mile leg with a local student who takes part in marathon organizer New York Road Runners’ youth programs. Silver will run alongside Lauren Pitarresi, a 14 year-old from Staten Island, “who I’m concerned is going to smoke me,” he joked.

Silver is an avid runner who has twice completed the NYC Marathon, finishing in just under four hours in both 2002 and 2010. He competed in track and cross country — and not basketball — in high school in Rye, New York, where he was a quarter- and half-miler.

The 52-year-old Silver hasn’t been running as much since he became commissioner in February. He still gets in four or five workouts a week, often taking two laps around the reservoir in Central Park for just over three miles.

He’s not in good enough shape to do the full race Sunday, though it’s a strange sensation as a marathoner to stop after only a few miles.

“I felt awkward running only a leg of the marathon and not the entire marathon, having remembered some famous New York stories of people who started and didn’t necessarily finish,” Silver said.

Plans for the relay began in the early spring. New York is home to this season’s NBA All-Star weekend, with events at the Nets’ Brooklyn arena and the game at Madison Square Garden.

The league is seeking to reach a half-million youngsters in the five boroughs through fitness programs in conjunction with hosting the festivities.

Silver will start just after Wave 1 on Sunday. He needs to be ready to leave his home on Manhattan’s West Side at 6 a.m. to get to Staten Island, though he said he’s “negotiating” a later pick-up.

Other participants will gather at a hotel in Manhattan or another in Brooklyn to be ferried to their baton-passing points, which will take place at mile-markers.

Twenty-seven vehicles will be required to get everybody to the proper places, with coordination from the New York Police Department to ensure they can be transported through the crowded streets.

Marathon officials expect the relay to take more than five hours.

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NBA commissioner, ex-stars in NYC Marathon relay