November/December 1994, p.2

Review of Improving Regional Mobility:
Long-Range Investment Strategies For the Port Authority's Interstate Transportation Network

BY DANIEL CONVISSOR

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) recently completed a new report: "Improving Regional Mobility," comparing three projects to bolster bi-state transportation. The analysis does an excellent job determining the economic, environmental and traffic flow consequences these alternatives will have. Unfortunately, the PA picked the project they want to justify and then compared it only to clearly inferior options.

The PA waxes on about preserving open space and meeting the joined mandates of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). But when it comes to dispensing dollars, these statements show how hollow the CAA and ISTEA really are. The PA along with too many transportation providers around the nation, pay lip service to alternative transport, give it a little more funding, then continue the highway business as usual.

Here's the alternatives the study examined:

(1) Goethals Bridge expansion, which calls for building a new twin or clone of the existing bridge.
(2) A new rapid rail line from the Meadowlands Sports Complex to Grand Central Terminal, with NY stations at Rockefeller Plaza (5-6 Av), Times Square (Broadway-8 Av) and Eleventh Avenue.
(3) Expansion of the Cross Bronx Expressway, with construction of an auxiliary lane along the westbound CBE from Sheridan Expressway to Prospect Av, ramp improvements at Third Avenue and the Sheridan Expressway.
(4) Goethals Bridge expansion and Staten Island Expressway widening with the SIE expansion adding a fourth lane in each direction; and
(5) Goethals and SIE expansions together with Trans-Hudson Core Access Rapid Transit

The result is that this study glorifies twinning the Goethals Bridge and widening the Staten Island Expressway, since it is the only project studied which provides significant new capacity for passenger and cargo trips between New Jersey and Long Island (including Brooklyn and Queens). The Cross Bronx Expressway option contains minor capacity expansions. The new rail line they studied would be a subway-like system from the Meadowlands to eastern Manhattan. It would not be a new segment of the commuter rail system nor would it go to Long Island or serve freight.

The PA needs to compare the projects above with additional trans-Hudson alternatives that serve NJ to Long Island trips, for instance: (1) Rapid rail passenger & rail freight on Staten Island's North Shore Line with a tunnel to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; (2) light rail from Cranford, NJ to East New York, Brooklyn, via the old Central Railroad, North Shore line, Verrazano Bridge and Bay Ridge Freight Line; (3) light Rail across the George Washington Bridge, through the Bronx, over the Hell Gate Bridge to the East New York Stations of both the LIRR and the Transit Authority; or (4) heavy commuter rail from Secaucus, NJ to Sunnyside, Queens, via a new tunnel under the Hudson River and 49th Street while utilizing the existing 63rd Street Tunnel to Queens.

It seems that the PA is afraid to put the Goethals Bridge expansion up against these alternatives, fearing it will not come out on top. Only by comparing alternatives that have similar goals can the best projects be truly determined.

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