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Governor George E. Pataki, speaking at an Association for a Better New York luncheon at the Ritz Carlton in Battery Park City, today announced the results of a coordinated study on a new rail line between Lower Manhattan and both Long Island and JFK Airport. The feasibility study concluded that the recommended approach would be to build a new tunnel under the East River between Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, creating direct service from the World Trade Center to the Long Island Rail Road's Jamaica Station. The new tunnel would allow for a 40% faster commute from Jamaica for Long Island commuters and will provide a one-seat ride to JFK Airport. The study was conducted by the LMDC, MTA, Port Authority and New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). "Long Islanders - as well as Queens and Brooklyn commuters - will experience a more direct and more comfortable trip to Lower Manhattan," Governor Pataki said. "And by offering this attractive approach instead of the circuitous route many Long Island riders currently take via Penn Station, our new service will help reduce congestion on Midtown to Downtown subway lines such as the 2/3 - benefiting passengers throughout Manhattan. This improved air-rail service will strengthen the competitiveness of JFK, our region's premier international airport and an important economic engine for our area." Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, "Direct one-seat airport access, and commuter access to and from Long Island, will help maintain Lower Manhattan's position as a global hub of commerce and culture, and as an international destination. This investment, linking Lower Manhattan to JFK, will anchor Lower Manhattan as a regional center and create thousands of jobs, helping to integrate the entire metropolitan area, including Queens and Brooklyn. We look forward to kicking off the environmental process of this exciting project in coordination with the LMDC, MTA and the Port Authority of NY & NJ." LMDC Chairman John C. Whitehead said, "This transportation link is critically important to Lower Manhattan's future. The Governor's leadership, along with the support of Mayor Bloomberg and many major New York organizations, is making it a reality. With an expected substantial impact on citywide economic output, this is a win-win situation for New Yorkers." The Agencies' recommended approach of constructing a new tunnel will make the commute time from Long Island to Lower Manhattan fifteen minutes faster (a 40% time savings from Jamaica); allow for predictable, scheduled service; and offer a one-seat ride from JFK airport. The construction of this option makes extensive use of existing infrastructure from the Jamaica Station to downtown Brooklyn and would provide service to the Port Authority's World Trade Center Transportation Center with a pedestrian connection to the MTA's Fulton Street Transit Center. The direct connection from Jamaica to Lower Manhattan will eliminate the need for Downtown's Long Island commuters to travel to Penn Station and transfer to the 2/3 subway. As a result, congestion on this subway line will be relieved. The rail link will also provide improved service between Downtown Brooklyn and the LIRR hub at Jamaica, Queens. The new tunnel will add much needed capacity to the region's transit system and has the potential to provide a future East River connection for the Second Avenue Subway or the E Train. The two finalist approaches are:
LMDC President Kevin M. Rampe said, "Direct access to Long Island and JFK is an important investment in the future of Lower Manhattan and a key element in the creation of the 21st century transportation network planned for Downtown. Improved regional access and a direct connection to JFK International Airport are crucial to maintaining Lower Manhattan's status as the country's third largest central business district and the financial capital of the world. This new rail link will facilitate direct access to both Long Island and JFK Airport, enhancing the quality of travel for commuters and airport travelers." Charles A. Gargano, Empire State Development Chairman and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Vice Chairman said, "Connecting Lower Manhattan to Long Island and JFK is vital to the Governor's plan to create an extensive transportation hub in Lower Manhattan. This feasibility study shows that this type of progress is achievable within a decade. The time is right to focus and plan all of our transportation needs for Lower Manhattan. Not only will this expansion assist commuters, but it will aid travelers making their way to important destinations throughout our wonderful city. I applaud Governor Pataki for taking the lead in advancing the transportation infrastructure and helping make Lower Manhattan a 24 hour destination." MTA Chairman Peter S. Kalikow said, "The new rail link will enhance the entire transit system and provide a substantial economic benefit to the entire region. The Governor's vision will ensure the implementation of a magnificent Lower Manhattan transportation network that will make downtown even more accessible." The new tunnel will carry a ridership of up to 100,000 passengers a day and will cost approximately $6 billion. It is projected that the rail link will result in an increased economic output of $6 to 8 billion annually, generated in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and as much as $9 to 12 billion in the region as a whole. The service can be operational by 2013 with construction starting in 2006. A full assessment of all the issues that need to be addressed prior to the implementation of a new service will be evaluated in the formal environmental review process that will commence this summer. Governor Pataki identified a number of potential sources for funding and pledged to secure all the financing necessary to begin construction by the conclusion of the environmental review process. The Governor also recruited business leaders Ken Chenault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express; Stanley O'Neal, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Merrill Lynch; Tom Renyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Bank of New York; and Bill Rudin, President of Rudin Management and Chairman of ABNY, to join the effort to raise the funds from local and federal sources. An economic impact analysis report is available on LMDC's website at www.renewnyc.com.