Smile, You Are in Greenpoint

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bag It

As everybody knows, the Kosciuszko Bridge and environs are getting a full-out repaving, with the work being conducted between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M. Which means there are times when there is no roadwork ahead to alert drivers to. The DOT has a high-tech way to handle that situation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hands Free, Heart Pounding

Westbound on the Gowanus Expressway at 11:15 a.m. I had just reached the split with the Belt Parkway. It's a bit hard to describe, but this is the point where the two righthand lanes continue on to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and Staten Island, the center center-left lane dips down to feed onto the Belt Parkway, and the lefthand ("zipper") lane curves up and around and eventually rejoins the Gowanus Expressway headed towards S.I.--except when it is carrying traffic in the opposite direction.

Of course, I chose the single "zipper lane," which had just opened to westbound traffic. As soon as I did, I spotted something dark in the roadway, about two feet in from the lefthand Jersey barrier. At first I thought it was a piece of fabric or carpet or a garbage bag (pretty common sights on the BQE). As I got closer, I realized it was a rectangular manhole cover that had somehow been jarred open, one of its corners angled up at oncoming drivers. It wasn't difficult to avoid, but my stomach churned as I thought of somebody hitting it.

I dialed 911 on my cellphone and chose "Hands-Free," not something I do often or well. The operator's voice came through but faintly. For some reason, the music I had been listening to didn't cut out the way it is supposed to. And I couldn't figure out how to make it shut off or turn it down without losing the call volume. To hear the operator, I had to turn up the volume--and with it the music, which happened to be Dwight Yoakam singing "Long Way to Go" (from the fine 3 Pairs album).

911. Are you reporting an emergency?

Wishin' is only wishin'

Uhm, no. A highway hazard.

Till my only thought's the wish to be with you

Go ahead sir.

It's on the BQE. I mean, it's on the Gowanus Expressway.

"I've got a long way to go before I get there"

What exit number?

I don't know. 19, I think. Just after the split with the, what's it, Belt Parkway. There's a manhole cover open.

I've got a lot of field to hoe with the sun so high

So that's the Gowanus Expressway near Exit 19?

Yes, it's the lane on the far left, just after the split with the Belt.

Got a lot of miles to roll

And there is a manhole cover open?

And the next few only show

Yes, it's sticking up. If someone hit it...

That there's still such a long way to go.

She took my name and phone number, and gave me her operator's number. I didn't try to remember it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

High Desert

Inch by inch we achieve the point at which the Gowanus Expressway becomes the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Only to stultify high above the Gowanus Canal. Our neighbors heading towards the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel have better luck.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Luxury You Can Afford

Nothing says luxury like Rolex. Unless it's the stretch of the BQE between the Kosciuszko Bridge and the Queens Boulevard exit.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gnarly Marly

Making the Marly sign in Greenpoint, on any given night, is a good sign. You are on the bridge (Koscisuzko, of course), and so practically home free. On a snowy Wednesday night, with rubbernecking caused by an accident on the other side--some poor bastard in a Sentra merged with a Department of Corrections bus--I finally had a chance to photograph it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Everybody Needs a Shovel

Resurfacing the Kosciuszko Bridge is a big job. And it calls for big machines. During the day, for the last several weeks, this monster has sat idle on 65th Place just beyond the BQE off-ramp.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Steam Mayor

From the Behind the Water Tower blog (a BTB favorite):

Wolsztyn elects new mayor
Monday, 24 November 2014 by 
Wojciech Lis
Wojciech Lis, the newly elected Mayor of Wolsztyn.
Photo Wojciech Lis.
The recent local elections have seen a change in leadership in Wolsztyn.
The new Mayor is Wojciech Lis, known to many for his factual and regular updates on the Wolsztyn steam scene through his website, which he has operated for well over a decade.
It is clear that since the suspension of the regular scheduled service, the town has been substantially quieter.  It is hoped that such an openly pro-steam mayor will vigorously push for the reinstatement of the daily steam services.
Behind the Water Tower congratulates Mr Lis on his election, and wishes him well for his tenure.

...and from Flann O'Brien (another BTB favorite):

For Steam Men

I took a trip to Belfast the other day on business of a kind that cannot be discussed here or elsewhere. I was not five minutes in the train until I realised that the engine-driver belonged to the 'full regulator, short cut-off' school. In my own railway days I used to work the locomotive as a high pressure simple (indeed, the design of the steam chest made no other course feasible) with cut-off as high as 60 per cent. That was before the days of the de Glehn compound or the Walschaerts gear. (I knew Walschaerts well, he was the best of fellows and a prince among steam men.) I am not criticising the G.N.R. driver. He knows his 'car' better than I. It is true, nevertheless, that the modern low pressure cylinder is not there for nothing. Where you have 'hard steaming', short cut-off with full regulator will nearly always lead to disparity in pressure readings between boiler and steam chest. They tell me that modern research at Dundalk has show otherwise, but that is all my eye and Betty Martin.
     At Belfast I noticed that the valve rod had lost adjustment and nobody was less surprised than myself. I hate to see machinery tortured.

-Flann O'Brien (Myles na Gopaleen), from The Best of Myles