The Train to the Plane has long gone the way of the Dodo. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn. Courtesy of NYCSubway.org)
Oh, the tortured history of the JFK Raillink. When last we saw this ill-fated raillink in April, the plan seemed to be hanging on precariously to life support. Now, any high-speed train to the plane is all but dead, according to the latest reports.
The New York Sun notes today that Mayor Bloomberg, long a proponent of the Lower Manhattan-JFK Raillink, has decided to compromise on this project in order to gain support for his congestion pricing plan. Elliot Sander, the MTA CEO, and Sheldon Silver, influential New York State Assembly speaker, have said they will warm up to the congestion pricing plan if more of the money goes toward financing the Second Ave. subway instead of a raillink that most transit advocates feel would be a waste of $6 billion.
In direct negotiations between Messrs. Bloomberg and Spitzer, as well as a series of discussions between city and state officials over the past week intended to hammer out a bill on congestion pricing before Memorial Day, talk has turned to omitting some transit improvements that were included in the city’s original 2030 plan, according to multiple sources close to the negotiations.
The $3.75 billion that was earmarked in the city’s sustainability plan for a rail link that would provide a direct connection between Lower Manhattan and John F. Kennedy International Airport, instead could help pay for the completion of the Second Avenue Subway, currently under construction but not yet fully funded … The East Side subway line, which would serve Mr. Silver’s district in Lower Manhattan if completed, has long been one of the speaker’s favored projects, as well as a priority for Mr. Spitzer.
According to The Sun, support from Silver and Sander would go a long way toward legitimizing Bloomberg’s plans in the eyes of the federal government. And with the approval of the federal government comes more money for transportation in New York City.
The money itself was be funneled to the Second Ave. subway through the proposed SMART authority, a topic I will touch upon later this week. Meanwhile, transit advocates are pleased to hear that the City is narrowing its focus to a few major construction projects that have a higher chance of being completed instead of many minor projected that never seem to move forward.
This plan, in my idea, is the missing piece of the NYC2030 plan. It ensures that the Second Ave. subway has a dedicated source of funding and allays concerns that The Line That Almost Never Was will still be just a figment of our imagination. Furthermore, it all but kills the JFK Raillink, a rapid transit line that would affect far fewer people than the Second Ave. subway will. It’s good to see some common-sense economics emerging from the cooperation between the City, State and MTA.