Governor Pataki today announced that the West Street Promenade project will be completed in 2009, and continued his bold vision for Lower Manhattan’s transportation infrastructure by calling on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to commit $1 billion dollars to create a rail link between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy Airport and Long Island.
The Governor’s announcements were made during a speech before the Association for a Better New York in which he outlined major progress made on a variety of Lower Manhattan transportation projects undertaken since September 11, 2001.
The Lower Manhattan JFK rail link, expected to cost $6 billion, is designed to provide airport travelers with a long-desired, one-seat ride to JFK in 36 minutes. It also would carry as many as 100,000 Long Island commuters to Lower Manhattan 15 minutes faster than existing rail services and would help reduce congestion on midtown-to-downtown subway lines – benefiting passengers throughout Manhattan.
“As I have said before and I will say again, we will pay for and build this project,” Governor Pataki said. “Lower Manhattan’s economic future will be stronger because of it.
“The environmental review is under way. I have been assured that the Federal Transit Administration has agreed to work with us to apply a streamlined process so that we can complete the project on time and on schedule,” the Governor said.
The $1 billion requested of the Port Authority brings to $4 billion the amount of money earmarked for the rail link project. The Port Authority previously promised $560 million dollars under the New York City airport lease extension, the MTA contributed $400 million and another $2 billion contribution is expected from the tax credit conversion, giving the project approximately 66 percent of its required funding.
The tree-lined West Street Promenade will be built along the World Trade Center site and Battery Park City, and will replace the initial plans for a tunnel through this area. Work on the South Promenade began in the fall of 2004 and is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2006. Work on the North Promenade will begin in early 2007 and be complete by in 2009, two years quicker than the formerly proposed plans for the tunnel.
In addition to the rail link and West Street, the Governor outlined progress on numerous projects that will shape Lower Manhattan’s future:
The Governor also announced that the temporary World Trade Center PATH Station – opened in November 2003 a month ahead of schedule – set a new ridership record on April 12 with more than 41,000 passengers traveling through the station. The station’s current ridership levels far exceed initial projections by one year.
“Ask any business person and they will tell you that the key to a strong economy is a world-class transportation system,” Governor Pataki said. “In the last quarter alone, Lower Manhattan had the third-largest increase in commercial occupancy rates in the nation. And over the next several years, 1,200 new housing units are expected to be built across downtown, reinforcing Lower Manhattan’s reputation as a 24/7 community.
“But if the downtown area is to continue to grow and prosper, we need to move quickly to make sure our bold vision for transportation is realized,” the Governor said.