New York

Photo Courtesy of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Temporary Setback: Despite losing its request to immediately roll back the toll hikes, AAA is continuing to seek a permanent injunction to have them reversed.
Photo by Joe Woolhead
Ongoing Investigation: On Feb. 16, the cable of a crane carrying steel beams at the 4 World Trade Center construction site snapped, causing the beams to fall about 40 stories.

Probe Into 4 WTC Cable Break to Take Months

It will take months to determine the cause of a Feb. 16 accident at the 4 World Trade Center construction site in which a crane cable snapped, dropping its load of steel beams 40 stories, says the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. No one was injured at the site as the beams plummeted and hit the flatbed truck used to transport the load, says the agency which is overseeing the investigation.

Work has resumed at the site after part of it was shut down temporarily pending an investigation, the Port Authority says. "The crane in question is permanently out of service" and has been replaced by other tower cranes, the agency said in a statement. It adds that the accident did not affect work on the other projects at the site.

"The investigation will take months given the reviews that will be done, including expert reviews of the crane's hydraulics and metallurgy," the agency says. It adds that it has met and will continue to meet with Community Board 1, which consists of local community representatives for updates on the progress of the investigation.

The ongoing investigation includes officials from the crane owner and operating company, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, New York City Dept. of Buildings' Cranes & Derricks Division, New York State Dept. of Labor and the developer Silverstein Properties.

The 4 WTC tower, located on the southeast corner of the WTC site bounded by Greenwich, Church, Cortlandt and Liberty streets, is set to rise 977 ft above street level when it is completed in 2013.

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SolarCity Taps State's New Solar Incentives

SolarCity, a solar power installer and services firm based in San Mateo, Calif., is among the latest to take advantage of new incentives in the Connecticut solar market. The company says it will open an office in Hartford to take advantage of programs under the state's newly created Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority and the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection.

"Connecticut residents pay some of the highest electricity rates in the nation," says Ed Steins, northeastern regional director of SolarCity. "We can give them the option to reduce these bills and do something positive for the environment at the same time."

New York & New Jersey

PA Wins Round 1 In Battle With AAA Over Toll Hikes

A federal court has sided with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey by denying the American Automobile Association's request to immediately roll back the controversial Hudson River crossings toll hikes put into effect last September.

The Feb. 6 decision by Judge Richard J. Holwell of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan is part of a lawsuit that AAA's Automobile Club of New York filed against the Port Authority in September. The suit, which is ongoing, charges the agency with using toll revenues to pay for non-transportation projects including the World Trade Center redevelopment.

The Port Authority says the suit is without merit.

AAA will continue to seek a permanent injunction to have the tolls reversed as well as "declaratory relief" to prevent the Port Authority from spending toll money on any non-transportation-related projects, says Robert Sinclair, a AAA spokesman. The court has granted AAA time to review financial documentation for its case, he says.

New York & New Jersey

Audit Criticizes PA Spending and Management

A recent third-party audit of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey found that the World Trade Center project's gross costs have grown to roughly $14.8 billion from about $11 billion in 2008 and will likely rise further.

The phase-one interim audit, compiled by Navigant Consulting Inc. and Rothschild Inc. at the request of Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, says the agency is in need of a "top-to-bottom overhaul of its management structure."

The report also found that an estimated net cost to the agency, after third-party reimbursements, has risen to about $7.7 billion from about $6 billion since 2008. The report recommends the establishment of new financial and management controls for all aspects of the WTC project to help mitigate about $1 billion of potential incremental cost exposure.

Port Authority Chairman David Samson says the agency is committed to a top-to-bottom review. "The first phase of our independent review provides an objective analysis of what hasn't worked, particularly with respect to management controls of World Trade Center redevelopment costs, and the findings of the report provide a strong foundation for current executive leadership to get things moving in the right direction," he says.