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Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company.- Clearing up
streets in Brooklyn.
REPORT OF COMMITTEE.
(Adopted August 23, 1907.) The street surface work connected with the Brooklyn subway, from Fulton street at Borough Hall station through Flatbush avenue to the Long Island station, referred to this committee, was begun on Wednesday, July 18th. At that time, although the subway for almost the entire distance of Fulton street was completed and considerable progress had been made in paving and finishing the surface, the following objectionable features remained :
1. In front of the Hall of Records on Fulton street large piles of material had accumulated and the sidewalk was in bad condition. At the intersection of Willoughby and Fulton streets several large openings existed which were in the way of traffic, and almost all of the street at this point was planked over and had not been back filled.
2. Between Court street and Smith street large piles of paving stones and other material impeded traffic.
3. The Smith street crossing was in bad shape owing to the work of the Coney Island and Brooklyn railroad.
4. At Hoyt street station large clumsy bridges encumbered the sidewalks on both sides of Hoyt street. Part of the sidewalk between Hoyt street and Elm place was not paved, most of the street remained planked over and had not been back filled. On the north side of the street another bridge encumbered the sidewalk and Duffield street was full of material.
5. At intersection of Gold street and DeKalb.avenue a large space still remained planked over and had not been back filled, by reason of misunderstandings between the subway contractors and the railway companies. The DeKalb avenue shaft was also located at this intersection and will remain, owing to the siding at this point, and was planned to take care of the Flatbush avenue excavating.
6. At Bond street a large opening existed, running for some distance up the street, which was held open on account of the Edison Company's work.
7. Approaching Hanover place the work was in bad condition, sidewalks and vaults being uncompleted and littered with material and the street being unpaved and in most places planked over. Hanover place was encumbered with old building material, some of which the property owners claimed had been there for months, and although the subway was roofed over for 200 feet east of Hanover place, no finishing had been attempted whatsoever.
8. From Nevins street to State street the entire length of Flatbush avenue was given over to the subway contractors, including the adjacent side streets, and only the minimum allowable space was given to traffic and to property owners.
9. At the Long Island station excavating had just begun, so that conditions at this point were not serious.
10. Our first effort was to give immediate relief to Fulton street from Borough Hall station to Hanover place by compelling the contractors and various corporations to agree on minor points causing delays, by forcing completion of many small items of work that were keeping large portions of the street impassable, and by causing the contractors to clear up useless materials and reset the pavements over the whole. This. work was completed by August 6th. The paving as now relaid is not in perfect condition and should be improved.
A careful observation of that portion of the subway which yet remains to be completed clearly shows that a similar cleaning-up process can be carried on at Flatbush avenue, from a point 100 feet south of the intersection of Nevins street to the end of State street, and whlle this work cannot be done with the rapidity of the Fulton street work, there is no reason why by October 1st this section cannot be put into exactly the condition of Fulton street at the present time.
This will afford a great deal of relief, both to upbound department store traffic through Livingston street and Schermerhorn street, and also to the property owners in the immediate neighborhood, who have suffered more and longer than any others along the subway.
This work should be immediately pushed with the following alms in view :
Complete opening up of Nevins street to through traffic direct to Fulton street; the opening up of Livingston street through to Lafayette avenue and the absolute completion of the new trolley lines through these streets at not later than September 25th, the paving over the sidewalks and streets of Flatbush avenue for the entire distance, and removal therefrom of all building materials, as also from the adjoining side streets.
After careful study of all the conditions which govern the completion of this work, including the completion of the subway proper, the work of the sewer and water departments, and of the telephone, gas and electric light companies, we are confident that there is no reason why this work cannot be accomplished. It also seems necessary to open up Nevins street immediately on account of the narrowness of the thoroughfare, but the contractors should be allowed to use the other side streets until October 1 in order that they will have no obstruction to the rapid completion of the work; providing, however, that a free passageway for teams should always be open.
The cleaning up of Fulton street, which to-day is practically accomplished, followed by the cleaning up of Flatbush avenue in the section mentioned by Octo. ber 1, will leave but two sections, namely, the intersection of Flatbush avenue and Fulton street and the Long Island station, to be completed. At Flatbush avenue and Fulton street, owing to the great difficulty of the work, the delay will be longest, and the work at the Long Island station, owing to its rather open location, will not afford serious inconvenience; and both of these points are well taken care of by the work of the contractors and the engineers and are being pushed with consistent vigor.
We submit with the report a number of proposed resolutions to advance the work of clearing up Flatbush avenue. Dated, New York, August 22, 1907.
Commissioner Bassett presented the following resolution:
Resolved, That the Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company be required to remove all material from Nevins street at once and allow that street to be kept entirely open for traffic, and that a direct passageway from Nevins street to Fulton street wide enough to permit two trucks to pass each other shall immediately be planked over and kept open ;
And further, That the said company be required to forthwith remove the boiler plant from the middle of Livingston street to some point preferably to the south and out of the way of the proposed new Livingston street surface line ;
And, further, That the said company be required to complete on or before October 1, 1907, the work upon the surface of Flatbush avenue from a point approxi. mately 100 feet south of Nevids street to State street; that all back filling, sidewalks, curbs and street paving be completed by that date with the exception of the shafts at Livingston street and Lafayette avenue, which are to be neatly, enclosed, and a ventilating opening at Lafayette avenue, the work upon which is confined to a smaller space;
And further, That said company be required to employ night shifts of workmen, if necessary so to do, to complete this work by October 1, 1907;
And further, That after October 1, 1907, all material of any sort shall be removed from Flatbush avenue from a point approximately 100 feet from Nevins street (except that the space at Journeay & Burnham's former store may be used as long as that is vacant), and also the following side streets : Livingston street. Third avenue, Schermerhorn street, Lafayette avenue, Rockwell place, and that these streets shall be and remain entirely clear as to sidewalks, car tracks and pavements.
Commissioner Bassett here stated that the Commission had power to enforce this clearing-up process and that the only probable cost to the Commission would be in the remeval of the boiler plant.
George S. Rice stated that when the contractor commenced on that work he elibmitted a plan and secured a permit to put his plant where it is in the street.
Commissioner Bassett stated that the street is under the Commission's contiol, and now that Livingston sireet has been widened the plant stands exactly where the new trolley tracks are to be laid, and this resolution is virtually a command to a contractor of ours to do certain work.
The resolution was adopted August 23, 1907.
Commissioner Bassett then presented the following resolutions :
Resolved, That the Nassau Electric Railway Company be required to complete all of its work on the new Livingston street-Lafayette avenue surface line, includ. ing the laying of tracks, erecting, of poles or stringing of wires, and the relaying of all street pavement from a point approximately 200 feet from Flatbush avenue on Livingston street through Flatbush avenue and to a point approximately 200 feet from Flatbush avenue on Lafayette avenue, on or before September 23, 1307.
The resolution was adopted August 23, 1907.
Resolved, That no street openings of any sort shall, while subway construction is going on, be made in Fulton street or Flatbush avenue, after the pavement is once reset over the subway, without a special permit from this Commission.
The resolution was adopted August 23, 1907.
Condemnation Proceedings under the Rapid Transit Act.
*[Condemnation proceedings under the Rapid Transit Act are unduly expensive.
The Commission is obliged to pay fees and expenses of commissioners after they have been taxed by the court.)
The following reports were made and discussions had concerning expenses of condemnation proceedings.
Commissioner Bassett presented the following report, which, on motion, duly seconded, was adopted:
On the occasion of the presentation of the bill of Mortimer K. Flagg for $100 for the month of July, 1907, for services as clerk to the condemnation commission appointed to appraise easements taken for rapid transit work along Southern boulevard and Boston road, The Bronx, the entire subject of condemnation under the Rapid Transit Act was referred to me, as a committee of one, for investigation and report. Since that time I have conferred with a large number of officials, some in our office, some in the corporation counsel's office and some in the office of the comptroller.
Condemnations initiated by the Public Service Commission, as successors to the Board of Rapid Transit Railroad Commissioners, are governed by paragraph 40 of the Rapid Transit Act and subsequent sections. This Board is directed to prepare maps and certify them to the corporation counsel, whereupon the corporation counsel applies to the Supreme Court for the appointment of a commission, usually sug. gesting one name.
The law provides that the Commissioners shall receive as compensation the sum of $10 per day for each day actually employed, and they may employ the necessary clerks, stenographers and surveyors. The charter provisions governing condemnation of streets, parks and sites for public buildings do not apply in any degree to rapid transit condemnations.
A custom has grown up whereby commissions to condemn property under the Rapid Transit Law take advantage of the latter provision to appoint a clerk to the Commission at $100 per month. While it is possible that in large and intricate proceedings this may be desirable, it still remains the fact that in ordinary cases the amount of work does not demand any such expenditure. It is customary for the Commissioners to pass a resolution employing a certain clerk and fixing his salary at $100 per month. It should be noticed that the law gives the Commis. sioners no power to fix the salary; but a later provision states that all such expense must be taxed by the court after notice to the corporation counsel and paid by the Rapid Transit Board. Therefore, when the bills of such condemnation commissions are taxed by the court, whether for this or any other lawful purpose, it becomes obligatory upon the Public Service Commission to pay them. Our only method of bringing the matter up would be to request the corporation counsel to oppose such items.
There are two condemnations now proceeding wherein such clerks are employed ; one which has been working about three years on the easements along Joralemon and other streets, in the borough of Brooklyn (in this proceeding George N. Young has been, and is, acting as clerk at $100 per month); the other is the proceeding
* See footnote, page 9.
in The Bronx, wherein Mr. Flagg is clerk. Both of these proceedings are intricate and involve a very large number of parcels, and would justify the employment of clerks if such employment were ever justifiable.
In some months there are numerous meetings and considerable work for the clerk to do between meetings; in others, and during the summer months, there is practically no work, but the pay continues. It should be remembered, however, that a single clerk should cover the entire proceeding, and that it would be difficult to put his pay on a per diem basis.
The Finance Department, in order to save expense on such condemnations other than street openings, which are in a large bureau under J. P. Dunn, organized a distinct bureau, called the Commissioners of Estimate and Appraisal, having offices at No. 237 Broadway, Manhattan, and occupying a position, to some extent, intermediate between the comptroller and corporation counsel. This bureau, now under the charge of Joseph M. Schenck, attends to the clerical work for the various commissions appointed on school sites, docks, etc. Several minor condemnation proceedings under the Rapid Transit Act have also been attended to by this bureau without outside assistance. This bureau makes a pro rata charge against the various boards for which it works, but thus far has made the expense materially less than if each commission had continued to employ its own clerical assistants.
It is clearly in the interest of economy to use this newly organized bureau wherever possible, although the absolute power of the condemnation commissions appointed under the Rapid Transit Act to select their own clerical help must be recognized. To this end I have had a conference with Joel Squier, Esq., assistant corporation counsel in charge of rapid transit condemnations, and he has agreed that so far as he is able he will see that no more special clerks are appointed, and that in general the new bureau shall be used to the utmost possible advantage. I think that, with the co-operation of the corporation counsel and our counsel, and an oral interview with the various commissioners as soon as appointed by the court, this can be accomplished. It does not seem advisable to me that we should formally request the corporation counsel to protest against the bills of Messrs. Young and Flagg.
The duty of favoring or protesting against these and other similar bills rests with the corporation counsel, and while it would certainly be our privilege to protest against any flagrant charges, I do not consider that it would be wise to maka these specific items the subject of protest at this time. I believe that we can accomplish more by co-operation with the corporation counsel along this line.
The Brooklyn commission referred to has now been sitting more than three years, and, although it should be recognized that this work has been enormous, it would seem entirely proper that we should communicate with the corporation counsel urging that this work shall be completed and final report filed at the earliest possible date. To this end I recommend the passage of the annexed resolution.
The city charter has recently been substantially amended with a view of hastening street and park condemnations and lessening expense. Provision has been made that $5 instead of $10 shall be the compensation for each commissioner in sessions lasting less than half an hour; a limit of time has been placed upon proceedings, and the power of the commissions to select clerks has been taken away. The provisions of the Rapid Transit Act giving unnecessary powers to the commissioners, such as employing clerks and surveyors, etc., is now unique, and, as far as I know, does not apply to other condemnations in this city. It will be well, in my opinion, to see that an amendment to the Rapid Transit Act in this respect is submitted at the next session of the Legislature.
Dated, September 24, 1907.
Commissioner Maltbie — * I have three bills here for stenographic services, in connection with condemnation proceedings, in favor of C. N. Cronyn: One for $474 even ; one for $465.40, and one for $411 even. In each case I consider the charges that have been made are above the rket rate, and would not justify payment for the sums in the amounts called for. These bills have been taxed by the court. Payment is mandatory upon us, and regardless of the fact that they are high, they must be paid, and so, in view of these facts, Mr. Chairman, I move that they be paid."
Commissioner Bassett --“I should like to express my concurrence in what Mr. Maltbie has said, and to state further that, under the Rapid Transit Act, the
condemnation.commissioners are expressly given the power of choosing their own stenographers and clerks, so that it is not at all in the power of this Commisslon, and it is therefore impossible at present to avoid this very evident påyment in increase of market rates."
November 8, 1907.
Metropolitan Street Railway Company.- Line from Manhattan
Post Office to Williamsburg Plaza. [It is not feasible to operate a surface line from the Manhattan Post Office to Williamsburgh Bridge plaza.)
Commissioner Bassett presented the following report on the proposed surface line from the Post Office, Manhattan, to the Williamsburg Bridge, recommend. ing that at the present time such a line was not advisable. On motion the report was ordered filed.
The purpose of this inquiry was to discover whether it would be feasible to operate a surface line from Manhattan Post Office to the Williamsburg plaza, for the purpose of deflecting some of the travel from the Brooklyn Bridge, especially in rush hours.
I had several conferences with Oren Root, Jr., on this subject, and he assented to taking the cars and men that now operate between the Grand Central station and Williamsburg plaza, and placing them on the proposed route. I have made an investigation into the number of persons now carried by the route running from the Grand Central station, and also the number now crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, who would be likely to use the proposed line. The surface congestion is already so great between the Manhattan Post Office and Delancey street that, in my opinion, the new route would be apt to do as much harm as good. It would not be proper to stop the operation of the line from the Grand Central to the Williamsburg Bridge, as it is now largely used, especially in rush hours, and it is quite possible that its discontinuance would cause soine of the persons now using it to go south to the Brooklyn Bridge. The number of people who would use the proposed line is shown to be very small.
On this account, I report that for the present it is not advisable to take steps to install a surface route, such as has been proposed.
I append hereto the reports from the inspectors' department.
New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company.
Increase of Rates. *[The Public Service Commission for the First District has no jurisdiction over rates between points outside the district and points within the district over railroads other than street rallroads.]
Commissioners Bassett and Eustis, to whom were referred the matter of disposition of communications as to the increase of rates on the New York C'entral, reported:
The question involved is whether this Commission has jurisdiction over the question of rates over a railroad between points outside of this district to a point within this district. This seems to be clearly provided for in section 5, subdivision 6, paragraph 2:
"All jurisdiction, supervision, powers and duties under this Act not specially granted to the Public Service Commission of the First District shall be vested in and be exercised by the Public Service Commission of the Second District, including the regulation and control of all transportation of persons or property and the instrumentalities connected with such transportation on any railroad other than a street railroad from a point within either district to a point within the other district."
* See footnote, page 9.
Vol. II.- 3.