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The underside of Penn

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Daily Point

Descending into ‘summer of hell’

The Newsday editorial board spent its morning touring the operations of Penn Station. We saw the high tech, in the enormous digital screens of the station’s control center, where red lights gleamed as trains went by. And, we saw the dilapidated, in the rotting wooden railroad ties holding the tracks together in the dark, grim strategic spot known as A Interlocking.

That’s where two derailments occurred within a month of one another in the spring, necessitating the emergency repair work that started the “summer of hell.”

Here’s what we saw:

  • It’s complicated work, being done in a very tight space. Much of that space is being used just to store the equipment, replacement track and other materials — mounds of it sit on the tracks and on the platform, waiting to be moved to the areas in need of repair. And much of the track material is custom made. “This is not something you go to the rail equipment aisle of Home Depot and just pick up,” said Amtrak executive vice president Stephen Gardner.
  • It’s Track 10, with its 1910 design and concrete and wood configuration, that was in “very bad shape,” said Wick Moorman, Amtrak’s chief executive. Ripping it up and replacing it is an intensive, time-consuming, “extraordinarily laborious” process. That was clear Thursday just by walking to the edge of the platform, and watching the work unfold. “I have never seen an environment as difficult as this,” Moorman told The Point.
  • It’s dark and grimy, with no floodlights to assist the work, since engineers are still guiding trains into and out of the station on nearby tracks. The work is intensive and piecemeal; the ceilings are low, the platforms are narrow. It’s not an area that can accommodate huge cranes lowering 30 feet of track at a time. That means everything takes longer, and requires more people. The piles of new wood, most of it oak, are still on the platforms reeking of creosote.
  • It’s surprisingly quiet, even as the work goes on. There’s no jack-hammering or drilling. The loudest sounds come from the trains themselves, still winding their way down the tracks on either side of the work being done. At any given time, particularly overnight, as many as 100 people could be working on the project, pouring concrete, replacing tracks and ties. Far fewer work during the day, to limit the disruption. So far, Amtrak is on schedule but it‘s all about the time. Moorman said, “The most valuable commodity in Penn Station in terms of doing things down here, is time not money.”He then continued, laughing: “I say that because we happen to have a little bit of money right now. At some point, that may change.”

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

Follow the Mooch

Let’s face it, palace intrigue is our meat and potatoes, or this being Long Island, linguine with clam sauce. That’s why Thursday morning’s extraordinary half-hour call to CNN by the “Mooch” that stunned the commentariat can’t go without notice.

Anthony Scaramucci, the White House director of communications, did not have a good evening on Wednesday. After Politico got a copy of his financial disclosure form, the Harvard Law School grad tweeted that he wanted the FBI to investigate the “felony” that was committed. He later deleted the tweet when he found out that the disclosure forms are public documents.

But the Long Islander is also smart enough to know that reporters often get tipped off on when and where to look for such juicy items. And he made it clear during his CNN call that he thinks Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, whose job he wants, is an enabler. Much of Twitter is obsessed with this.

Really, the entire transcript is worth a read, but to make your day easier, here’s the money quote: “There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this President. That is not their job.”

While Scaramucci thinks Donald Trump is going a great job, it raises the question of what other top presidential aides are worried that the president is destroying America.

And as you ponder that existential question, let’s talk about what really matters, real estate. Here’s what we culled from Scaramucci’s disclosure form:

Listed are six residential properties and two commercial ones in Port Washington that provide rental income. Collectively their value is listed as between $1.7 million and $3.5 million and the annual rent for the properties is between $205,000 and $480,000.

Then there are the properties that appear to be for personal use but are not his main residence, which is in Manhasset. For his Southampton residence, he checked the box that it was worth between $1 to $5 million with no income.

There’s a home in the Catskills town of Windham worth between $500,000 and $1 million. A second Windham house is most likely a rental. The property has the same value but is listed separately as earning rent of $15,000 to $50,000.

So if you like to ski and want to make a new friend, check it out. He seems like he would be a very chatty neighbor.

Rita Ciolli

Pointing Out

Let the Belmont bidding begin

Those anxiously awaiting the state’s request for proposals for the valuable state land adjacent to Belmont Park might not have to wait much longer.

A savvy Point source told us the state’s Franchise Oversight Board, comprised of appointees by the governor, the state Senate, and the state Assembly, likely will be shown the document on Friday. Assuming the board gives its go-ahead, the request could be made public as early as Monday. Another source confirmed,“I’m hearing it’s imminent.”

The drafters of the RFP, Empire State Development, would not confirm the news. A spokeswoman would only say that officials were “continuing to finalize an RFP for the site.”

Why is this so important? It’s likely the New York Islanders will be one of the Belmont bidders, as the team hopes to partner with developers who would build a new hockey arena at the site.

And there are bidders now making their way to the starting gate.

Randi F. Marshall