* A string of transportation mega-projects at the MTA may come to an end as the authority wraps up four of them over the next few years – the Second Ave. subway, the Fulton Street Transit Center, the No. 7 subway extension to Manhattan’s Far West Side and the East Side Access project connecting the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. Beyond those, the future is all about tweaking the existing system, Joseph Lhota, the MTA’s chairman, told the audience at a New York Building Congress breakfast yesterday. That means updated signals to shuttle more trains through, longer platforms and more entranceways to ease the flow of commuters in and out of stations. “We’re going to have to expand our system in a way that isn’t as sexy as these four mega-projects,” Lhota said. And while such mundane efforts may not grab the public’s attention, Lhota said the aim would be to cut wait times in half. “It’s about signals,” he explained after his speech. “If we’re going to have more throughput, we’re going to put more trains on the same track, and we’re going to have to have more modernized signals.”
* A potential future speaker of the New York City Council has signed on to the paid sick leave bill. Councilman Mark Weprin says he decided to co-sponsor the bill several weeks ago after conducting a survey of the residents in his northeast Queens district. “The people that I represent have expressed overwhelming support for paid sick leave,” Weprin said in a statement. “Last month, I was pleased to tell Council Member Gale Brewer that I had signed onto the bill.” The bill has gained some momentum recently: Brooklyn Councilwoman Diana Reyna signed onto it last week — not long after Weprin – giving the bill 37 co-sponsors. Weprin’s decision is also significant because the current Council speaker, Christine Quinn, is the person responsible for holding up a vote on the paid sick leave bill. That could change in two years. Of the 2014 speaker candidates, Weprin and Manhattan Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito are now publicly supportive, while Manhattan Councilwoman Inez Dickens has not signed on.
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