Empire State Gateway Plan Stretches Twin Suspension Bridges from NJ to Queens

Posted On Mon, May 23, 2016 By

Posted On Mon, May 23, 2016 By In New Jersey, Transportation, Urban Design

Just two months ago, the state allocated $70 million for early engineering work on a new Hudson River tunnel, part of the larger $20 billion Gateway project to fix the crumbling, century-old tunnels that currently carry New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains under the Hudson River. Despite the move forward, a traffic consultant from Delaware thinks he has a better idea.

NJ.com shared Scott R. Spencer’s proposal for twin suspension bridges that would stretch 3.5 miles from New Jersey, across Manhattan at 38th and 39th Streets, and in to Queens. He believes the plan, aptly titled the Empire State Gateway, would be a much quicker solution to the current transportation woes, with one bridge taking about five years to complete versus 20+ years for the tunnels. Spencer’s idea, however, would also cost $20 billion, and as Untapped points out, would cast quite the shadow over Midtown (not to mention the countless approvals and variances it would require).

Empire State Gateway-2

Six 1,000-foot towers would support the bridges, which would have the required 212 feet of clearance over the River. Eastbound traffic would run along 38th Street, with westbound traffic on 39th Street. The project would use air rights over Route 495 in New Jersey and construct a new station on 6th Avenue, just south of Bryant Park.

Empire State Gateway-3

Each bridge would have a lower level 100 feet above ground that would accommodate two rail lines. The second level would have two lanes for buses and commercial car traffic, as well a light rail or magnetic levitation train line that Spencer claims would reduce congestion in the Lincoln Tunnel and Port Authority bus terminal. A pedestrian and bike lane would occupy the third level.

Spencer previously worked as a consultant on the ARC Tunnel project, another plan for new Hudson River rail tunnels that was started in 2009, but stopped by Governor Christie the following year due to lack of funding. He refers to his new idea as “very futuristic” and explains that 75 percent of the investment cost would come from “tolls for buses, taxis and limos, fees paid by NJ Transit and Amtrak to use the span, transit oriented real estate fees, and revenue from cell phone, TV and radio antennas.” He presented the proposal last week at a meeting about the tunnel and plans to share the idea with the Federal Railroad Administration next week.

[Via NJ.com and Untapped]

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Renderings and maps via Tevebaugh Associates Architects

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  • Liam Blank

    We should not be building entirely new infrastructure when we aren’t even taking full advantage of the infrastructure we already have. Also, this would destroy the urban fabric of Manhattan and especially devastate Midtown. Who would want to live/work on a street with high speed rail and highway noise right outside their window? And then when you exit your building, you’re in complete darkness on the street-level. The best rail plan for New York City is ReThinkNYC: http://www.rethinknyc.com/newrail

    • Ray

      Liam – I tend to agree with you. Yet I think there are a few interesting elements in Spencer’s proposal. First, I like the idea of NJ’s Hudson Bergen Light Rail reaching Manhattan. Second, a dedicated high speed busway into the city seems attractive; though like trains they should thru run. Third, pedestrians and bicycles are also a great consideration.

      • Mark LaPointe

        Obviously something on the proposed scale will never happen. Litigation would keep anything from happening until we are all dead and buried anyway. But like you said, some aspects of it would be positive. I think first and foremost any highway considerations should be abandoned. The population density cries out for more and improved rail access which is a much more efficient way to move people around. Bicycle and pedestrian routes should also be improved.

        • Ray

          Mark – I get your point re highways yet it made me consider the evolution of road running vehicles. I believe the inevitable advent of autonomous vehicles (buses, jitneys, vans or some passenger concept yet to be seen) may challenge us to rethink the role of fixed guideway solutions and how we deliver passengers once in Manhattan. I think it we could soon be entering an era of coordinated, on demand, point to point mass transit.

          • Mark LaPointe

            That is a good point Ray. I never even gave thought regarding driverless transportation. I do wonder though if even coordinated point to point transportation will b efficient enough to avoid gridlock given the increasing population density in Manhattan. For example, the HOV lane concept was thought to be better than adding extra lanes for drivers because according to the federal government, extra lanes would be a pointless attempt to keep up with increasing amounts of highway drivers versus taking cars off of the highway through carpooling. Of course that theory is even worse since they changed many HOV rules to accommodate electric cars etc. Anyway, it an interesting new era in transportation and even driving habits (e.g. many millennials being less inclines to drive etc.).

          • Andrew Doolittle

            What do you think a Subway system is? The ultimate in driverless transportation obviously. All electric as well PLUS adds grid stability. Not cheap of course but since all the zoning for rail was done over 150 years ago … and in many cases the rail already built and at one time used … it’s not a flight of fancy. This idea on the other hand is quite “far out dude” as the hippies might have said back in the day.

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