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Builders Urge Transport Upgrades on NY’s West Side

April 2, 2014

Greg Kelly and Rich Anderson ask Pat Foye where will funding come from for transport projects on the West Side.
Greg Kelly (l.) and Rich Anderson ask Pat Foye where will funding come from for transport projects on the West Side.

By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY—The New York Building Congress issued a new report on Tuesday, April 1 urging action on four major transportation projects on Manhattan’s West Side to alleviate congestion on the rail network feeding into the city from New Jersey. The report notes it’ll take a multiple of funding sources to finish the projects, but the federal government will have to lead. Video 

Dubbed “Moving Midtown West,” the new report highlights four projects that must be completed, especially as development on the West Side accelerates.

They include Moynihan Station, Amtrak’s Gateway Project, Metro-North access to Penn Station and upgrading or rebuilding Penn Station.

The urgency to improve the rail network on the West Side is being propelled by real estate developments such as the new Hudson Yards project, which will add millions of square feet of new commercial and residential space.

Probably the most important project to increase rail capacity in the region is Amtrak’s Gateway Project, which calls for, among others, building two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River and has a price tag of almost $15 billion in 2011 dollars.

To bring more commuter and intercity-rail passengers into Manhattan traveling along the Northeast Corridor requires expanding rail station capacity. Work is already underway at the old Farley Post Office across the street from Madison Square Garden to allow for public access to train platforms from 31st and 33rd Streets on 8th Avenue.

But Phase Two work at Moynihan, which would transform large portions of the old Post Office building into a public concourse with commercial spaces, like Grand Central Terminal, carries a $700 million price tag.

The Port Authority is responsible for overseeing the work at Moynihan. The authority’ executive director, Pat Foye, spoke about the Moynihan and Gateway projects while presenting the authority’s 10-year, $27.6 billion capital plan at the Building Congress event.

Greg Kelly, Chief Operating Officer with New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering and construction firm, asked Foye how might the city and state pay for Moynihan’s Phase Two work.

“I believe just as with Phase One, Phase Two will get built with multiple sources of funding which will include undoubtedly the federal government, the State of New York, private investment and obviously the sale of air rights,” Foye said.

In an interview, Richard Anderson, president for the Building Congress, also said funding will have to come from multiple sources.

“All infrastructure funding is a challenge these days, but this is a shared responsibility among the two states, the city of New York and the federal government, and that makes it much more manageable,” Anderson said.

The report, Moving Midtown West, notes the city has yet to commit to the Phase Two work at Moynihan.

“To date, the City has not contributed capital funds to Moynihan. The City should be a partner, providing direct financial support or leveraging nearby assets to ensure this vital project gets underway,” the report reads.

By giving its stamp of approval for expanding rail capacity into and out of Manhattan, the New York real estate industry is possibly giving Amtrak’s Gateway project the best chance for constructing new rail tunnels under the Hudson River for the first time in more than 100 years.

Craig Schulz, an Amtrak spokesperson, said in a statement that Amtrak appreciates the Building Congress’s report calling for the advancement of key infrastructure projects such as Gateway.

“We continue to collaborate with our partner agencies on these important projects and appreciate the support of federal, state and local leaders as we work to identify funding sources to move them forward.”

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