"What're They For, Exactly?" $100 Million Bridge-And-Tunnel Towers Baffle New Yorkers

After a summer plagued by hours-long delays and service outages, New Yorkers’ frustration with the city’s rapidly deteriorating subway system has reached a boiling point. But while the MTA is desperately trying to close massive budget shortfalls by hiking fares in lieu  of any kind of meaningful assistance from the State of New York, commuters have noticed that a series of mysterious metal towers have started appearing at the entrances of tunnels and bridges around the city.

And some are expressing frustration with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the MTA for refusing to release any details about the towers' purpose, despite planning to spend $100 million on them.

One New Yorker, Jose Lugo, told CBS that the quickly appeared after the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toll booths came down.

Earlier this month, Reinvent Albany asked the Authorities Budget Office to investigate whether the 'MTA board was fully informed, before approving contracts' related to the construction of the towers. The group is trying to figure out if the MTA board knew what it was doing when it approved a series of contract amendments worth some $47 million worth of expenses for the towers that currently sit at the entrance to the Battery and Queens Midtown Tunnels.

Eventually, the MTA plans to construct 18 such towers, saying only that they will serve some vague anti-terrorism-related purpose.

“It’s a bit mind-boggling that the MTA is approving $100 million for what appears to us to be big, decorative pylons,” says John Kaehny, the leader of the watchdog group Reinvent Albany. “What we’re asking for is transparency from the MTA.”

 

“What we're asking for is transparency from the MTA.”  

But the individuals in charge are staying tight-lipped about what the towers actually do.

Cedrick Fulton, the head of the MTA's bridges and tunnels, refused to comment to media organizations asking about the towers, and MTA chaiman and former mayoral candidate Joe Lhota said he wasn't at liberty to discuss details of the project, other than to confirm that they would serve some type of anti-terrorism-related purpose.

Shams Tarek, a spokesman for the MTA, told Politico that the towers 'host cameras, traffic monitoring and other equipment related to homeland security that would otherwise have been hosted by the former toll booth structures'.

If this is accurate, then $100 million seems like a hefty price tag for such a project.

Citizens aren’t the only ones asking questions about the towers. According to CBS, some MTA board members, including New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, say they know too little about the towers – especially considering that the MTA has already spent $50 million on them.

“It’s a $100 million MTA project shrouded in secrecy, with 18 of them for tunnels and bridges. So, what are they exactly?” Trottenberg said.

Let’s hope – for the MTA’s sake – that these pylons do have some kind of sophisticated functionality, and that this isn’t another classic example of the wasteful spending habits that have contributed to the subway’s present-day troubles.  
 

Comments

greenskeeper carl Juggernaut x2 Thu, 09/28/2017 - 23:44 Permalink

WHatever they are, you know they involve a subversion of civil liberties. It being NY, which is a perfect confluence of the neoliberal nanny state and the neoconservative police state, its a pretty safe bet to say it involves spying on the citizens, somehow. But, since its New York, fuck em. They create all this bullshit there, and then ship it out to the rest of the country.

In reply to by Juggernaut x2

nmewn Raymond K Hessel Fri, 09/29/2017 - 06:47 Permalink

And now, bureaucratic central planning deep thoughts with...Mayor Bill de Blasio..."What’s been hardest is the way our legal system is structured to favor private property. I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be. I think there’s a socialistic impulse, which I hear every day, in every kind of community, that they would like things to be planned in accordance to their needs. Unfortunately, what stands in the way of that is hundreds of years of history that have elevated property rights and wealth to the point that that’s the reality that calls the tune on a lot of development."...nasty ole property rights. Dirty, nasty, vile and rotten individual rights! Why oh why can't the majority simply take what they want away from the minority and I will redistribute it according to the will of my administrators?!Oh...and by the way, Hillary will...never...EVER...be President.Ever ;-)

In reply to by Raymond K Hessel

nmewn BigJim Fri, 09/29/2017 - 10:24 Permalink

This is what the leftardians can't seem to get through their imbecilic heads...communists want complete control over everything and everyone. It doesn't matter how much a prog fucks shit up, they look on the fuck up as yet another opportunity to prove their  net worth to society and fix that fuck up by fucking something else up that is completely unrelated to the original thing they fucked up. Anyone who has the temerity to say "Hey, ummm, it was working fine before you fucked it up ya know." is immediately branded a rayziiist-sexist-homophobic-deplorable.  To them, fucking shit up is normal &  just job security ;-)

In reply to by BigJim

GreatUncle Ignatius Fri, 09/29/2017 - 07:26 Permalink

Yep next year they will spend $100M more to duplicate them and so on, actually they will spend $200M and call the difference grow in the economy.I find those who are thieves enjoyable to watch, you see they know what a thief is and then all their energies are on all manners of criminality to protect all they have stolen. It is like watchign ants scurrying to defend themselves against the flood of raindrops (oh I meant snowflakes).

In reply to by Ignatius

DaddyPirate TahoeBilly2012 Fri, 09/29/2017 - 10:55 Permalink

that's if there's any bankers left. What if these are radiation/bomb dectectors?? Makes sense to put these detectors at entry and exit points of all tunnels, roadways, and ports entering NYC so someone can't just drive a bomb in to NYC and blow the place. You can't exactly smuggle a nuke on an airplane and I would imagine it would be pretty hard on a subway/ train. I hate .gov spending but this might be spending that I don't hate as much.

In reply to by TahoeBilly2012

general ambivalent gramps Fri, 09/29/2017 - 00:08 Permalink

Camera towers without cameras and they refuse to discuss? Pretty unlikely.Possibly:>According to Nature magazine, in an undisclosed location in the northeast, Homeland Security has been testing its Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) program which is designed to 'sense' and spot people who intend to commit a terrorist act.>According to the DHS privacy impact document, there are five remote sensors that can measure heart and respiration rates, and remote eye trackers that can measure pupils, position and gaze of eyes. There are also thermal cameras as well as audio to analyze pitch changes in human voices. High resolution video is used to analyze facial expressions and body movement. "Other sensor types such as pheromones detection are also under consideration."https://www.computerworld.com/article/2469953/endpoint-security/homelan…

In reply to by gramps

gregga777 Thu, 09/28/2017 - 23:29 Permalink

Isn't it obvious? Profits for the contractor(s) with somewhere around 10% of those profits as kickbacks to the political parasites. There's a lot of profit ($72M) in erecting 18 $2 million towers while getting paid $100 million ($100M - 18*$2M = $72M). That's up to $7.2 million in kickbacks, too.

dlweld Thu, 09/28/2017 - 23:35 Permalink

Those look like camera towers, cameras combined with polarizing filters and facial recognition software will be able to list the folks going accross the bridge in real time. Maybe even link to their facebook profiles. Nice