by Linda G. Miller
Event: The Growth Catalyst: Reviving New York City’s Economy through Infrastructure, The Port Authority Lecture Series
Location: Theresa Lang Community & Student Center, 01.28.10
Remarks: Christopher O. Ward — Executive Director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ); Seth W. Pinsky — President, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Discussion: Joan Byron — Director of Sustainability and Environmental Justice Initiative, Pratt Center for Community Development; Robert D. Yaro — President, Regional Plan Association; Kathryn S. Wyle — President & CEO, Partnership for NYC
Moderator: Daniel Massey — Reporter, Crain’s New York Business
Organizer: Center for New York City Affairs, The New School
“Visit any major city in the world, and you’ll see how far behind we are,” stated Seth Pinsky, president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). “We’re still paying for choices made [in the 1970s and 80s], and we’re still underinvested.” The laundry list of negatives far outweighed the positives at a recent discussion about reviving the city’s economy through infrastructure. Toll and fare increases will always be insufficient; LaGuardia Airport needs to be rebuilt; JFK’s poor cargo operations is leading to longer wait periods to get goods to users; trucks are choking the city; we need a better rail freight system; we need better ferry service.
Despite the pessimism, two transportation projects that excited panelists were the ARC (Access to the Region’s Core), a project of the Port Authority of NY and NJ (PANYNJ) and NJ Transit that will be the first new rail tunnel to be constructed under the Hudson River in 100 years, and the MTA’s East Side Access, which will make the east side of Manhattan more accessible to Long Island Rail Road commuters. PANYNJ is investing $6 billion in ARC, which has been on the drawing boards for decades. Ground was broken on the NJ side in June 2009 and, when completed by 2017, it is anticipated that the number of commuters from NJ to Manhattan will double since it will provide more frequent trains and express service. An expanded Penn Station will connect travelers directly to subway concourses at 7th and 8th Avenues, and for the first time, 6th Avenue and Herald Square.
Robert D. Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), concurred: “We need to continue to make investments.” He talked about “value recapture,” and finding ways to make money from the projects on the boards, such as an airport access fee, container fees, and congestion pricing, which he feels will be back on the table for discussion. “People think they can get something for nothing, but to get something, you have to pay for something.”
As for Moynihan Station, Christopher O. Ward, PANYNJ’s executive director, believes it will be built and believes it is not just a beautiful building, but it is a lynchpin to the Northeast Corridor.
And what about the Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at JFK, which is being rehabilitated by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners? PANYNJ appreciates its architectural legacy and sees it as an asset. They hope it will monetize itself as a corporate center and a place to do business — once the economy picks up.
Linda G. Miller is a NYC-based freelance writer and publicist, and a contributing editor to e-Oculus and OCULUS.