As we ease out of the COVID-19 PAUSE in NYC, one thing is making a comeback that nobody wants: traffic congestion. While businesses continue to reopen and more workers returning to their job sites, most people are leery of using mass transit, which can mean only one thing: More driving…which is putting decades of air quality improvements in jeopardy.
“We avoid 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year because of the MTA,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “If we’re swapping that with cars, which are less efficient to begin with, we are going to have a problem.”
Traffic on bridges and tunnels is down only 18 percent on average from its pre-pandemic levels. The number of vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district is only 15 percent below the volume seen ahead of the public health crisis, according to the city’s Department of Transportation. In early April, traffic was down roughly 60 percent from normal levels.
While subway ridership has rebounded from an all-time low, it’s still down roughly 78 percent from 2019 levels — with just more than one million riders using the system on weekdays. Buses have recovered more quickly, but ridership is still down 50 percent.
While environmental advocates have focused their efforts in recent years on targeting the largest source of emissions — city buildings — they acknowledge transit could become a greater concern in the Covid-19 era.
You can read more about this on Politico.com here.
Hannah Schanzer is a Park Intern at Solar One this summer, working in Stuyvesant Cove Park. She is a rising junior at Washington University in St. Louis, studying Environmental Policy and Urban Studies. She has come to the Park this summer to learn more about urban park stewardship and urban ecology.
For my summer research project, I really wanted to focus on studying how the urban setting impacts the biodiversity of the park. Stuyvesant Cove Park is situated between a gas station, a power plant, and the highway. Additionally, it is located on the former site of a cement mixing factory.
Preliminary testing revealed that the soil in some beds of the park have slightly elevated levels of lead, although not enough to cause concern with park operations (highest lead concentration in a bed was 80 ppm (parts per million), anything less than 100 ppm is considered safe for children to play in). I was curious to find out whether there was a way to “clean” the soil with the highest lead concentration without treating it with chemicals or replacing it with imported soil.
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Lead has been flagged as a known health hazard for more than 40 years, but contaminated paint, dust and soil is still a problem in older NYC buildings and neighborhoods that had a lot of automobile traffic during the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Complete removal is difficult, and while cases of lead poisoning in children have been declining steadily since the first lead mitigation building regulations were established in 2004, the demolition and renovation of so many older buildings over the past decade has only added to the problem. The city had originally hoped to completely eliminate lead poisoning by 2010. Unfortunately it was not to be. However, with proper action taken by landlords, and enforcement by city agencies charged with monitoring this issue, New York City can move closer towards its stated goal.
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Ascendant Neighborhood Development (AND), an affordable housing company working in East and Central Harlem, has been working since 2015 on a plan to renovate and modernize 21 buildings in its portfolio, and Solar One is delighted to have partnered with AND on the solar portion of their strategy.
Our Here Comes Solar Affordable Solar team did the site assessments and provided technical advice to AND about which of their buildings were best suited for solar installations, and did the estimates of how big the systems could be and how much electricity they could generate. As a result, AND will be installing a 197 kW array, which will generate more than 235,000 kWh every year- enough to provide electricity to all the common areas of all 21 Ascendant Heritage buildings.
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Since the 1970s, off and on, NYC has considered a congestion pricing plan, where drivers would be charged a fee for driving in Manhattan south of 60th Street during certain hours of the day, for the purpose of relieving congestion on the streets and raising badly needed income for the public transportation system. Unlike previous plans, the current one under consideration does not include tolls on all the East River bridges. But opponents still believe the fees will be a drain on commuters.
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“Reading is fundamental” is a phrase most people are familiar with, and instilling a love of books and reading in their children is some thing that many, if not most, parents strive for. Some books carry messages even more profound, though. Stories are such a compelling way of passing on information that human cultures have stories that have survived thousands of years.
When it comes to environmentalism, stories can play an important role in teaching kids to take care of the animals, plants and other features of a healthy natural environment.
Here are five suggestions from Earth911.com that are sure to please budding environmentalists and eco-parents:
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