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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 86, no. 2212: August 6, 1910

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August 6, 1910. RECORD AKD GUIDE -231 ^ ,SSTABUSHED-^MABf:KSl^^l668. BUsnfeSS^'BlEHlESOFGE^iEI^L IrfTERfSl., PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE BIGHT DOLLARS CommtiDlcatlons should ba addressed t9 C. W. SWEET Vubtisfied Every Saturday By THE RECORD AND GTJIDE CO. PresMent. CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGE Vlca-Pres. & Genl. Mgr., H, W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER N08. 11 to IB East 24«» Street, New York City CTeleptone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the Post Office at New York, N. Y.. ns sccond-elass matter." Copyrighted. 1910, by The Record Sc Guide Co. Vol. LXXXVl. AUGUST 6, 1910. No. 2212 IT is now stated that the delay in advertising for bids on the Tri-Borough route has been caused by disagreement between the engineers of the Public Service Commission and those of the city over the form of contract. If such is the case the officials behind these engineers should, imme¬ diately get together and settle the causes of disagreement. The points involved are of some importance, but they could be decided one way or another in a few hours hy any body of well informed and intelligent business men. It is one un¬ fortunate consequence of the existing division of authority between the Commission and the Board of Estimate that these disagreements constantly occur and that they are just as constantly attended by vexatious delays. But it does seem as if the two bodies of officials should be able to reach a compromise upon mere questions of detail. What the public wants is subways, and it wants them quiclc. It is absolutely the business of the engineers to come to an agree¬ ment, aud if they cannot do so, they should be superseded. The important point is that all action in relation to rapid transit is necessarily held up pending the advertise¬ ment for bids on this route. The specifications are already two months late in appearing, and there seems to be no rea¬ son why another two months should now elapse before any¬ thing is done. In that case almost one-fourth of Mayor Gayoor's term will have passed before the bids are opened. There can be no doubt about the Mayor's ardent desire to have subway construction begin, and he should arrange a conference between such Public Service Commissioners and such borougli and city officials as are in town to settle the points in disagreement. THE "Outlook" is one of the best informed and most public spirited publications in the country; but in a recent article upon the subway situation in New York, it goes completely astray. The purpose of the article is to show that in all probability the Tri-Borough route and the pro¬ posal of the luterborough Co. are not mutually exclusive, but if they prove to be mutually exclusive, it considers that the balance of the argument is decisively in favor of the Broadway-Lexington avenue route. It sums the matter up in the following paragraph: "If the city's money is to be used to carry out one of these plans, it should be used for the construction of the Tri-Borough system. First, because it would give the city an entirely new system, serving new regions, and adding to the city's transit facilities to the full extent of its capacity. The luterborough extensions would be merely additions to the present system, serving comparatively little new territory and heing obliged to afford relief to the present Subway before it could provide ad¬ ditional facilities. Second, because the Tri-horough subway would afford greatly needed relief to Brooklyn, an important section which the proposed Interborougb extensions hardly touch. Third, because it would introduce competition into the New Tork suiaway situation, a force which has power to ac¬ complish many things which even the most enlightened and stringent regulation by Public Service Commissioners, or otherT wise, cannot bring about. Doubtless it would be ideal to have all the subways, present and future, in New York City oper¬ ated by a single concern, provided .they were operated ideally; but there would be a much closer approach to Ideal conditions of operation if competition were at work than under even a well-regulated monopoly." It is not true that the Interborougb extensions would serve comparatively little new territory compared to the compet¬ ing plan. No doubt more new territory would be served in the Bronx and Brooklyn by the commission's project; but iu Manhattan, where the congestion is most acute, the Inter¬ borougb extension would serve a sectjion of the borough that is entirely neglected in the alternative project. Fur¬ thermore, it must be remembered that the proposed exten¬ sion to the existing subway would cost only half what the Tri-Borough Route would cost; you can hardly expect to get as much for $70,000,000 as you can get for $130,000,000, or $140,000,000, and the important point is that the City can afford to raise the $70,000,000, whereas it can¬ not afford to raise double that amount. The great argument in favor of the luterborough extension is that it gives the city a greater increase in rapid transit foV less money than any other plan. What the "Outlook" expects the city will gain by means of possible competition between the two routes it is impossible to see- Competition in municipal rapid transit has long since heen proved to be disastrous in so far as it is effective, and in point of fact it is never effective for long. There can he no competition in fares; and competition in service is not pos¬ sible except within ^narrow limits. The population of tbe city would gain far more from the ability to travel all over the whole subway for a five-cent fare than it would from any possible competition. THE Record and Guide'has been informed that in a recent editorial paragraph pn Dock Commissioner Tomkins' plan for an elevated freight road on the West Side, connected with warehouses, we failed in at least one respect to do justice to the commissioner's scheme. The criticism' we made was that the city could not well find the $100,000,- 000 needed for the work, because even though the bonds were ultimately self-sustaining, there would be a period of some years during which they would be reckoned as part of the net debt of the city. In answer it is pointed out that if the desired contracts could he made with the railroad companies, the city would be assured in advance that tbe bonds would be self-sustaining, aud that consequently the Appellate Di¬ vision would place them in the same class as the bonds issued to pay for the existing subway. If this were true, it would undoubtedly remove one of the gravest difficulties involved by the carrying out of the plan. Everything would then depend upon the ability of tbe city authorities to con¬ vince the railroads of tbe benefits to them of the plan. Its possible benefits to the city are both great and unquestion¬ able. There can be uot the slightest doubt that the system of handling, storing and shipping freight in Manhattan is one of the most wasteful in the world, and that inevitably, unless something is done radically to improve it, the port of New York will gradually decline in relative importance. in the stress of modern competition 'uo city can afford to give its rivals such an advantage as that which little by little they will be able to enjoy over New York, The matter is of so much importance that both the trade organizations and the property owners' associations, should take the matter up without delay, aud should, do all they can to support the administration in carrying out the plan. The West Side property owners' associations should be particu¬ larly active in the matter, for the building of an ele¬ vated freight road and warehouses would do a great deal to increase the vaiue of their property. It would mean that all of Manhattan west of Broadway and south of 72nd street would become necessary for business uses of one kind or another. The very efBcieney of the system of freight hand¬ ling and distribution would enable business men to pay more for the property they need than they can afford to do at present. It is emphatically a case, in which thorough or¬ ganization and energetic work on the part of private indi¬ viduals is required in order to carry through an original and well-conceived public improvement. THE Record and Guide pointed out last week that the associations of property owners in New York have never shown any interest in the principle of excess con¬ demnation and in the benefits which would accrue from its application, not merely to the city, hut also in many cases to the individual property owner. Let us take, for instance, the effect of the application of this principle upon such an improvement as the extension of Seventh avenue and tbe widening, of Varick street. Under existing methods what¬ ever benefit contiguous property owners may derive from the improvement is either cut dowji or wiped out by the way in which the work is done and the cost assessed. The city condemns just what land it needs for the improvement and contiguous property ownera are left with mutilated 'lots.