A request to put the brakes on a $10 billion plan for a new West Side bus terminal and rethink the process with more input from local officials and the public was rebuffed by the Port Authority chairman, reports Crain’s. Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were joined by Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assembly members Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal and Councilman Corey Johnson in backing the effort to slow the Port Authority’s call to move ahead with a design competition to get ideas for the West Side plan.
The controversy emerged after a board meeting on Thursday. “We’re not going to defer the design and deliverability study,” was the reply from John Degnan, the New Jersey-appointed chairman, amid concerns that the new terminal will necessitate the seizure of private property using eminent domain, threaten area homes, small businesses and other organizations and belch more carbon from a larger fleet of buses into the air in an area that already “runs afoul of federal air-quality standards.”
According to Nadler, “The design competition assumes a lot of the answers,” referring to the quick dismissal of earlier ideas–like moving a portion of the bus terminal to New Jersey–and studies on ways the new terminal could be coordinated with other major transit projects. Degnan replied that the officials would have an opportunity to weigh in on the bus terminal project going forward: “[The design competition’s] result will provide the basis upon which the dialogue that was requested can take place…I don’t see a reason to defer a process that is simply an early step,” and that the opposition from officials was something that “every project at some point runs into.”
Back in March, the Port Authority’s then-vice-chairman Scott Rechler had urged the agency to investigate less costly options–like new bus routes and infrastructure that would allow transfers between bus and train service west of the Hudson. Degnan threatened to pull his support for a $4 billion central terminal project at LaGuardia Airport if Rechler didn’t support his request that the bus terminal be located on Manhattan’s West Side; Rechler grudgingly agreed to Degnan’s request.
In a letter released Wednesday, the New York officials said the decision to locate the terminal in Manhattan was made before a capacity study was able to properly evaluate the demands the terminal would make on future commuting patterns. Degnan countered by insisting that the design competition had, in fact, urged submissions to minimize or even eliminate the use of eminent domain, and that the new terminal would actually improve local air quality because buses would have room to park rather than idling on the street during rush hour as they currently do.
According to DNA info, the local pols want to call a halt. “The Port Authority has put the bus before the horse,” Brewer said Thursday. “They’ve mounted the design competition for a new bus terminal footprint in a process that has been publicly opaque, that virtually no one in this community has been allowed input on.” Gottfried added that “Port Authority literally does not know what they’re doing.” “The residents of Hell’s Kitchen should not be thrown under this bus terminal,” because of a deal that favors New Jersey residents, state Sen. Brad Hoylman added.
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Neighborhoods : Midtown West