Summer 2003, p.18

Sensible Transportation
Pataki Trade Center Site Tunnel to Cost $45,000 an Inch

Despite enormous community opposition, Governor Pataki wants to build an $860 billion tunnel to replace four blocks of West Street in Lower Manhattan.
Despite enormous community opposition, Governor Pataki wants to build an $860 billion tunnel to replace four blocks of West Street in Lower Manhattan.
Yes, Governor Pataki and his State DOT are totally serious about building a four block tunnel alongside the World Trade Center site that will cost $45,000 an inch-for a total of $860 million-and take more than five years to build. In June, the agency presented two options for the Route 9A/West Side Highway near the site, but one option was to do nothing. This "No Build" alternative is required by environmental law, but it is never adopted. In other words, the State DOT is saying that it is going to build the tunnel.

New York City elected officials are cool to the idea and object to the huge expense. The officials, local residents, environmentalists, good government groups and civic groups (including T.A.) believe that the money would be far better spent on improving transit access to and far from downtown. Instead of the tunnel, T.A. and other opponents of the tunnel support an urban boulevard with a promenade, which would cost $175 million and take only two years to build.

The rationale for the tunnel is to create more green space near the trade center site and 9/11 memorial. But the tunnel actually creates only very little more space than the boulevard option: 12 foot wide sidewalk versus 10 foot and 64 feet of green space adjacent to the sidewalk versus 54 feet. However, even this minor difference (12 feet total) could easily be evened up if the State DOT puts two turn lanes at Liberty and Vesey Streets.

Hopefully, the fact that groups as disparate as AAA and Transportation Alternatives oppose the tunnel will encourage Governor Pataki to rethink his support for the tunnel.

For more information on this issue, see the Web site of the Coalition to Save West Street, www.saveweststreet.com.


Opposing the West Street Tunnel

U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler
New York City Council Member
Alan J. Gerson
Manhattan Borough President
C. Virginia Fields
State Assemblymember
Deborah J. Glick
American Automobile Association of NY
The Clean Air Campaign
Straphanger's Campaign
New York City Transit Riders Council
Rebuild Downtown Our Town
Transportation Alternatives
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

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