Regional Plan Association

Design, Green Design, Policy

All renderings courtesy of Andrea Johnson for the Regional Plan Association

A new report released this week details how New York City’s notorious Rikers Island could become a green energy center after the prison complex closes. The Regional Plan Association and Rhode Island School of Design on Wednesday revealed their vision to transform the over 400-acre Rikers Island into a green energy hub with solar energy production, recycling and composting infrastructure, a research and training facility for the formerly incarcerated, and a wastewater treatment plant.

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Events, History, Midtown East

Photos courtesy of Regional Plan Association

In celebration of its centennial, the civic group Regional Plan Association has opened a free public exhibition in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. Designed by James Sanders Studio and curated by RPA, The Constant Future: A Century of the Regional Plan explores 100 years of New York City’s development from 1922 to the present day. The two-story display will be on view through October 24.

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City Living, Restaurants

Maiden Korea, 316 5th Avenue; Courtesy of Alfresco NYC

Over 11,500 restaurants across New York City currently participate in the city’s outdoor dining program, which launched last summer to help businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, seven of them were recognized for being the best examples of outdoor dining setups across the boroughs as part of the first-ever Alfresco Awards. The program, created by a group of local nonprofits, also acknowledged the city’s best Open Streets, an initiative that closes streets to cars for pedestrian use.

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Transportation

Current bike lanes by Union Square; Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Transportation on Flickr

When the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City earlier this year, many New Yorkers swapped the subway for cycling as a more socially distant way to commute. Now as the city enters its COVID-19 recovery phase, a planning group is calling on officials to build a network of protected bike lanes across the five boroughs. The Regional Plan Association (RPA) on Wednesday released a report that details plans for a 425-mile bikeway that could be constructed over the next five years and provide a continuous, safe connection between the boroughs.

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Policy, Transportation, Urban Design

BQE, DOT, Brooklyn heights promenade, Regional Plan association, bqe redesign

Image: Wikimedia cc.

A report released today by civic think tank Regional Plan Organization highlights options for the impending Brooklyn-Queens Expressway reconstruction that would appear to upend conventional highway reconstruction policy. The new report suggests that the DOT could actually reduce the number of lanes needed when redesigning the expressway’s 1.5-mile “Triple Cantilever” under the historic Brooklyn Heights Promenade, in addition to looking at congestion pricing, HOV restrictions and two-way tolling for the Verrazano Bridge. The demand management policies outlined contain both immediate benefits–like eliminating the need to block access to the historic Brooklyn Heights Promenade–and long-term rewards like reducing pollution.

Fewer highways, less traffic?

Policy, Transportation

gateway program, hudson river tunnel, amtrak

Via Amtrak

If the only rail link between New Jersey and Manhattan shuttered, homes in the region would see a drop in home value by $22 billion, according to a report released on Tuesday. An analysis from the Regional Plan Association highlights the economic effects of a partial shutdown of the Hudson River tunnel, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and carries 200,000 daily passengers via Amtrak and NJ Transit. To make repairs to the 110-year-old tunnels, officials have called for a $13 billion project that would construct a second tunnel to keep service operating while the existing tunnel is restored. But President Donald Trump’s administration said it will not support the Gateway tunnel project, making a partial shutdown of the tunnel more likely, according to the RPA (h/t Crain’s).

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Green Design, New Jersey, Policy, Urban Design

Via ORG Permanent Modernity/Regional Plan Association

Released last fall, the Regional Plan Association’s (RPA) Fourth Plan includes 61 recommendations focused on improving and expanding the area’s deteriorating infrastructure, transportation, and affordability, much of which revolves around climate change and its transformation of the region. According to the report, more than one million people and 650,000 jobs are at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels. In the plan, the RPA ambitiously recommends that the New Jersey Meadowlands, 21,000 acres of low-lying wetlands, becomes a national park as a way to mitigate impacts of climate change (h/t Curbed). Designating the region’s largest wetland as a national park would restore the natural habits, protect nearby communities, and create a recreational space, becoming, the report says, a “Climate Change National Park.” The Meadowlands National Park would adapt and grow with climate change by drawing and redrawing the boundaries of the park as coastlines change.

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Policy, Transportation

Construction workers giving a tour of the Second Avenue subway; photo via the MTA on Flickr

The exorbitant construction costs of building transit projects, coupled with project delays, could make the New York region lose jobs and businesses to other global cities that are completing transit projects in a more timely, and economical, fashion. A report released on Tuesday from the Regional Plan Association (RPA) says high-costs and delays are ingrained in every part of the public-project delivery, including too-long environmental reviews, inaccurate project budgets and timelines and a lack of communication with labor unions. In their report, the RPA analyzed three projects and their costs and delivery issues: the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access and the extension of the 7-train.

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affordable housing, Policy

Map courtesy of RPA

To solve New York City’s housing and homelessness crisis, more affordable housing should be built in high-rise neighborhoods which have the infrastructure and amenities to support it, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) said in a report released Monday. In order to build more developments in areas of all incomes, RPA says a 67-year-old state law that prohibits residential buildings larger than 12 times their lot size needs to be repealed. Passed by the state in 1961, the law caps residential floor area ratio (FAR) at 12.0. The report calls for lifting the cap to give communities more of a voice in the creation of mixed-income housing, as well as allow for expensive neighborhoods to diversify and expand affordability.

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maps, Policy

Density of population and infrastructure in the projected 2050 floodplain. Image: RPA.

Hurricane season is impossible to ignore, and as the October 29th anniversary date of Superstorm Sandy approaches, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) has released a report titled “Coastal Adaptation: A Framework for Governance and Funding to Address Climate Change” that warns of the imminent threat of rising sea levels and outlines a strategy to protect the many vulnerable stretches of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. According to the report, 59 percent of the region’s energy capacity, four major airports, 21 percent of public housing units, and 12 percent of hospital beds will be in areas at risk of flooding over the next 30 years. RPA research found that even in light of these projections, the region’s climate change planning tends to be reactive and local rather than pro-active and regional–and it’s not nearly enough.

Find out more about who’s at risk and what can be done

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