As part of a $306 billion infrastructure plan, Cuomo outlined the larger scope of his redevelopment plan for the waterfront on the west side on Thursday in the final installment of his 2021 State of the State address.
As part of the statewide plan, Cuomo said a $51 billion overhaul of Pier 76, currently an NYPD tow yard, and other components to the Empire Station Complex and an expansion to the High Line which he expects to create 196,000 jobs.
Simultaneously, Cuomo’s administration is preparing to restore the MTA’s $54 billion capital plan adopted in early 2020 and shelved along the way as a cost-saving measure amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“We’re going to continue to modernize our mass transit systems. We will accelerate key elements of the historic $51 billion MTA capital plan,” Cuomo said. “Upgrading signaling, purchasing new trains and buses, and making dozens of more stations ADA accessible. We will further extend the Second Avenue Subway from 96th Street to 125th Street. That will open up the east side all the way up to Harlem for new exciting possibilities. We will complete the $2.6 billion, Long Island Railroad third track expansion in 2022, which involves 50 projects.”
But what appeared to the governor as a bold and exciting announcement for New Yorkers anxious to start anew following the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates were keeping themselves, and Cuomo, grounded.
Concerns for the Riders Alliance remained around how the MTA will sustain itself in the future financially to avoid future financial crises, as well as bringing back 24/7 subways service, suspended between 1 and 5 a.m. for cleaning operations back in May.
“New Yorkers need Governor Cuomo to focus his energies on delivering a reliable and accessible subway system. He must also stop the regressive fare hike, restore 24/7 subway service and find lasting progressive solutions to the MTA’s revenue problems,” Riders Alliance Policy Director Danny Pearlstein said. “Public transit has a pivotal role to play in New York’s pursuit of climate and racial equity. As he sets and implements his infrastructure priorities, the governor must put the needs of essential workers and millions of transit-dependent New Yorkers first.”
Also in Cuomo’s redevelopment plan is a decision to start over with Port Authority Bus Terminal which he said would allow for more commercial space, fewer buses and less pollution going to the surrounding communities, all while improving the commuting experience.
“The Governor’s strong leadership and vision to keep building and put potentially tens of thousands of New Yorkers back to work will not only modernize our system but revitalize the region’s economy,” MTA spokesman Tim Minton said. “Leveraging federal investment, the MTA will plan to accelerate key elements of its historic $51.5 billion 2020-2024 capital plan, building on the $2 billion of projects already accelerated in 2020. In the face of COVID and federal uncertainty, the MTA has achieved significant progress with the Capital Program, from finishing the L Train Tunnel and 11 new ADA accessible stations, to the early completion of critical track work at Archer Avenue – and this will continue into 2021 and beyond.”
Cuomo discussed using this infrastructure plan to aid the Gateway Tunnel Project, long-stalled by the federal government under President Donald Trump. Cuomo expects the project to move forward under the Biden administration.
“This new complex also anticipates 2 new cross river train tunnels to bring more trains across the Hudson from the West and the renovation of the 2 existing cross river tunnels for a total of 4 train tunnels from points South and West of New York,” Cuomo said. “New York State stands ready to help in an equitable Gateway venture, but New York has neither the resources nor the patience to partner in more wasteful bureaucracy. Taken together, the Moynihan Hall, the block South of Penn Station and a renovated Penn Station will double our capacity and make travel easier, safer and more reliable – and more enjoyable.”
The current capacity for Long Island Rail Road trains in Penn Station, and adjoining Moynihan Train Hall, is currently 21 tracks.