Ian Sacs's blog

Ian Sacs, P.E. is a worldwide transportation solutions consultant based in Finland.
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Don't Let Time Dilute Outrage Over BP Gulf Spill

Just because our media-ravenous culture inundates us with more news than we can stomach doesn't mean we should give up on the long term prospects of the BP catastrophe.  As the poorly secured well beneath the exploded BP rig Deepwater Horizon continues its high-pressure torrent of not-yet-quantified-but-something-in-the-order-of-tens-to-hundreds-of-thousand-of-gallons-per-day of oil into the gorgeous waters of the Gulf of Mexico, we must not let the drone of time allow us lose sight of the result of horrendous and unforgivable destruction, weak industrial controls, and even weaker environmental morals.  We must also not ignore that efforts to “contain” the spill were devised simultaneously with an effort to spare the well.

Parking Garages Are So Last Century

The parking “epidemic” in Hoboken is so bad that no parking garage conceivable by man can contain our demand.  So this week, Hoboken ventures where no city has gone before; we are rolling out the nation’s first city-wide on-street car-sharing program as a public-private partnership between Hoboken and Connect by Hertz.

 

GPS a Go-Go for Community Shuttle Bus

With the brilliant help of graduates from Hoboken's Stevens Institute of Technology, our local community shuttle bus (a.k.a. The Hop, formerly known as The Downtown Crosstown Shuttle) can now be viewed live on the city's website as it cruises along narrow Hoboken city streets from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM (EST), Monday through Friday.  If you're not near the internet, try texting “crosstown” to 41411 to get a return text with the location of the bus' whereabouts whenever it's running, then run down to the corner before you miss it!

Why Don't We Get Plugged and Eschew (Gasoline)?

When I inherited the Hoboken Parking Utility last year, it was hobbling along with all of the forward planning of a Friday night Rock-and-Bowl last call.  With no time to build a new budget from the bottom up, I was left to remold what I found into something a little less status-quo and a little more innovative.  In a scrutinizing political climate and tough economic conditions, the changes had to be both necessary and serve as an example of ways to reduce costs.

Intermodal Instant Gratification

The beauty of street paint is that it costs next to nothing and it can have a huge effect in a very short period of time.  Anyone watching how New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan transforms public streets into public spaces with paint, planters, seating, and signs knows how the installation of these materials overnight works like magic.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Box?

As a young kid, skirting aimlessly throughout my suburban municipality from one car-optimized shopping center to the next on my bicycle in search of stimulation (and perhaps trouble), I vividly recall - though I likely didn't describe it as - the internal conflict between interesting commercial destinations on the inside, and the banal, cruel approach to these places on the outside.  Although the primitive human desires of my psyche subconsciously longed for a central place to congregate with other lost children of the suburbs, I never had a downtown; I never had a community center.  In this vacuum, I compensated with all that was available.

Pedestrian Sprawl Alert: Hoboken's New "Plaza"

As if all this inclement weather hasn't been hassle enough for those of us who cherish our cars, I practically careened into another tragic loss for the rightfully auto-minded recently in Hoboken, New Jersey.  It seems the needs of lofty pedestrians et.al. have once again been imprudently prioritized over us drivers in a result that is sure to make your muffler ratlle: a one-block segment of an historic belgian block street has been closed off to the ideal form of personal mobility (read: car) so that silly people with nothing better to do than run around frivolously in streets have another place off the sidewalk to inconvenience the driving majority of our great nation.

Finland Special: Snow As Traffic Calming Device

Very snowy holiday greetings from Finland, everyone!  While here visiting my in-laws and friends, I wanted to take a quick moment and share an interesting observation about the way Finns handle the incessant layers of snow that blanket their chilly winter country.  It seems that aside from limited access highways and some primary arterials, the Finnish standard for snow treatment is to plow to a reasonable depth, but not worry too much about an inch or two of snow base layer covering streets.  Some streets get sand treatment as well, but salt is used very, very sparingly.

LBI, NJ Bridge Plans To Worsen Traffic

New Jersey's prized gateway communities along Long Beach Island - South Jersey's extra-special vacation spot better known to the planning community for its prescient example as human habitation threatened by natural erosion in Ian McHarg's planning tome “Design with Nature” - are facing an entirely man-made threat in the form of ill-conceived plans to effectively double the roadway “capacity” of the one and only bridge connecting this 18 mile barrier island to the mainland.  If NJDOT is left to its own devices, and local community officials rush them along, a proposed new bridge will have the complete opposi

"Hoboken Daylighting" In Lieu Of Bump-Outs

So, I'm out at a site visit with the city engineer last week and we're talking about ways to implement curb extensions to reduce pedestrian exposure to vehicular traffic.  We're discussing inexpensive ways to accomplish this, and then on queue, as is the right and obligation of all civil engineers, the ugly villain subject of all things bumped-out rears its head: drainage.

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