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Thread: B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

  1. #1

    Default B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

    State officials are likely to build a short tunnel under West St. and construction will be much less disruptive than some neighbors fear, Timothy Carey, president and C.E.O. of the Battery Park City Authority, said last week.

    "That's what I think will happen," Carey said of the proposed underground roadway, which would be adjacent to the World Trade Center site between Vesey and Liberty Sts.

    Carey, a longtime friend of Gov. George Pataki, regularly consults with officials from the state Dept. of Transportation and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. about the best solution for the roadway that separates B.P.C. from ground zero and the rest of the Financial District. The authority, a state agency, last year commissioned its own consulting study about West St., also called Route 9A, but Carey said then that the report made no recommendations. Until now, he has kept his feelings for the best option close to the vest, but in a telephone interview last Friday, Carey said the short tunnel would be better than the other two options - building pedestrian bridges or a wide deck over the highway.

    "That's the best way to have traffic flow without interrupting all of the other activity at the site," said Carey. "It creates a plaza like Dag Hammarskjold at the U.N."

    He said it would take three or four years to build, but traffic would not be disrupted much during construction because work would be done underneath a temporary roadway deck. He said the deck would also shield neighbors from some of the noise and "little pieces of dust flying all around."

    He is well aware that some B.P.C. residents have objected to the tunnel, but he said the plan shouldn't raise an inordinate amount of objections since the short tunnel idea has received some community support and it is the first option in the proposed W.T.C. design by architect Daniel Libeskind - although Libeskind and planning officials have said the scheme could go forward with any of the West St. options.

    "Community Board 1 is for it, it's in the Libeskind plan - it's probably what will be built," Carey said.

    C.B. 1 has not, however, made a clear-cut endorsement of the tunnel. As part of a lengthy resolution commenting on the nine proposed designs for the W.T.C., the board drafted a resolution in January recommending a short bypass tunnel, but after further discussion, the full board decided to say the tunnel should be considered. But board members did not alter other parts of the resolution in which it indicated a preference for the tunnel.

    Madelyn Wils, C.B. 1's chairperson and a board member of the L.M.D.C., said last week that she needs more information before she would favor the tunnel. "I'm still waiting to see some drawings from D.O.T. explaining how the tunnel would start or finish," she said.

    Wils said her understanding is the tunnel would cost between $600 million and $700 million more than the costs of rebuilding the section of Route 9A that was badly damaged by the collapse of the Twin Towers. Last spring, state D.O.T. installed a temporary roadway that allowed for the reopening of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel nearby as well as the W.T.C. section of West St. The state would have to spend about $200 million in federal money to repair Route 9A, putting the costs of the tunnel at $800 million -$900 million, according to Wils and others on both sides of the tunnel issue who have been briefed by D.O.T.

    Agency officials made a presentation to C.B. 1 on West St. options at the end of last year, and although they divulged cost estimates on some options, they did not reveal the costs for a tunnel between Vesey and Liberty Sts. Subsequently, the L.M.D.C. has asked D.O.T. not to comment on West St., and the development corporation has been unwilling to disclose any details.

    Kevin Rampe, L.M.D.C.'s interim president, said the agency is still studying the issue and will make a decision in a few weeks.

    John Dellaportas, a tunnel opponent who helped start the Save West St. Coalition last year, said the short tunnel is not as bad an idea as the $3 billion long tunnel from Chambers St. to the Battery, but it still is problematic because of the entrance and exit ramps that would have to be built on both sides of the tunnel. "The ramps would be an eyesore for one thing, but more importantly, they would create hazardous places to cross the street," he said.
    He said there are 400 members in the group and they will file a lawsuit to stop a tunnel if they are unsuccessful in the political arena.

    Dellaportas said the tunnel would cut vehicular access to the neighborhood and D.O.T. officials were not sure if residents would have access to West St. from Albany St. when he spoke to them a few months ago about it
    He mentioned the same intersection Carey did to make the opposite point. Dellaportas said the tunnel on First Ave. near the United Nations works well at the entranceway because the U.N. is higher than street level, but when the cars exit at 49th St. it creates a bottleneck and unsightly barriers are used to calm the traffic.

    Tunnels also raise security concerns, he said. He said the underpass connecting the F.D.R. Drive to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel has been closed a lot in the late evening, Dellaportas suspects because of heightened security alerts. "They are always closing tunnels," he said. "Whenever Tom Ridge raises the level to code fuscia, or whatever it is, the tunnel will close."

    The short tunnel would be about 1,100 feet and would likely have two lanes of surface traffic above it going in each direction and a total of four lanes underground. It would replace the eight lanes of surface traffic. If the tunnel were built, it would create more space for a tree-lined boulevard and plazas, but there are likely to be more trees whichever plan is selected.

    Dellaportas said some in his group want better pedestrian bridges, but he thinks that with trees and other traffic-calming measures, the street would be just as easy to cross as other wide boulevards such as Park Ave.
    State D.O.T. has the ultimate decision-making power for West St., but since there are so many agencies that control the area adjacent to or near the roadway - the L.M.D.C., the Port Authority, the Battery Park City Authority and the Hudson River Park Trust - officials have said they want a consensus among the bureaucracies before making the decision. Pataki controls state D.O.T. and has either complete or half control over all of the other agencies involved.

    Last spring, the governor said, "West St. will be buried," but that was before many of the details about the tunnel were known. In the months that followed, he and his aides declined to repeat such a definitive statement.

    A month ago, Pataki, in a letter to federal transportation officials, said he wanted to build a tunnel with the federal money set aside for 9/11 relief. But unlike other projects on his transportation list, such as a new transit center at the W.T.C. and a new South Ferry subway station, Pataki did not say how much the tunnel would cost or identify where the money was to pay for it.

    It leaves a lot of uncertainty about the tunnel. Perhaps someone who has known Pataki since college and has remained a political ally over the years is in the best position to know what will happen.

    Someone like Tim Carey.

    Josh@DowntownExpress.com

  2. #2

    Default B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

    Residents ask Libeskind to improve access

    Downtown residents last week pressed Daniel Libeskind to adjust his design for the World Trade Center site by making it easier to walk through the area at street level.

    Libeskind, who was selected to design the site at the end of February, presented his plan to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's advisory committees last Thursday. The committees are made up of relatives of the people killed in the Sept. 11 attack, representatives from civics and arts groups, and Lower Manhattan business people and residents. Just about all of the speakers praised Libeskind's design, but the consensus among the residents who spoke was that the plan needed to be improved by allowing people walking east or west to cross the site in more places.

    Liz Berger, who lives just east of the site, said she was also concerned about the 10 million square feet of office space, which is proposed to be concentrated along Church St. And she said at Liberty and West Sts., the southwest corner of the site, the pedestrian access was particularly bad.

    Libeskind told her he gave a lot of thought to that corner, but he calculated that pedestrians would save only two minutes if he created a direct, diagonal passageway from Liberty and West to the proposed transit center at Greenwich and Fulton Sts. - and that would come at the expense of losing the drama of seeing the 4.7-acre memorial area which will be 30 feet below street level.

    "For the two minutes extra, it is important to preserve the site," he said.

    The memorial will be designed by other artists or architects in a competition that will be announced this spring. Libeskind's design sets aside the area for where the memorial will be. He put it below street level in order to keep the "bathtub" slurry wall, which protects the site from the Hudson River, visible. Libeskind likens the wall to a symbol of democracy that withstood the attack. "It's a wall that speaks to the values of the individual," he said at a breakfast meeting earlier in the day.

    The plan also includes what would be the tallest building in the world, a tower with the symbolic height of 1,776 feet near the corner of Fulton and West Sts. The first 70 stories would be office space and the rest of the building would be public spaces of gardens with a restaurant on the top floor. The plan also includes the "Wedge of Light" triangular plaza opposite the transit center. On the anniversary of the attack, there will be no shadows in the plaza between the time the first plane hit and the second tower collapsed. Near the memorial, there will also be a museum and a performance/cultural center.

    Larry Graham, senior vice president of Brookfield Financial Properties, which owns office buildings immediately east and west of the site - One Liberty Plaza and the World Financial Center - said he was naturally concerned about access questions, but he said he thought the plan could work. "We have to see what the corners look like and how friendly they are," he said. "These are details that need to be worked out."

    At last week's L.M.D.C. meeting, when another resident, Sudhir Jain, asked Libeskind if there was any way to improve the access, Libeskind indicated he did not want to make significant changes to the area near the memorial. "There is a logic to it," he said. "It is not a whimsical plan."

    Madelyn Wils, the only Downtown resident on the L.M.D.C. board of directors, said she was glad to hear that others had raised the access questions at the meeting.

    "The connections at the south and west ends of the site are not connections at all," Wils said in a telephone interview. "What he has done with this preliminary concept is disconnect them further.... How does anybody walk across the site?"

    Wils said she is confident Libeskind will find a way to solve the problems. "These things can be worked out," she said.

    The L.M.D.C. had originally recommended the selection of the THINK architectural team to redesign the site. But after Gov. George Pataki and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, made it clear they preferred the Libeskind plan, L.M.D.C. leaders, the mayor, governor and the P.A. all agreed to go with Libeskind.

    At the breakfast meeting last week, organized by the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, Joseph Seymour, executive director of the Port, and Kevin Rampe, interim president of the L.M.D.C., announced an agreement in principle to designate Libeskind as the "master architect" of the site.

    "Daniel Libeskind's vision will be realized and his hand will guide the way," Rampe said.

    The L.M.D.C., a state-city agency created by Pataki, will take the lead in planning the memorial, the P.A. will work with Libeskind on the subway and PATH center, and both agencies will jointly work with Libeskind on adjustments to the site plan. Both agencies will pay Libeskind, but the percentages have not been determined, Rampe said.

    Rampe said he expected the final contracts with Libeskind to be finalized within the next 30 days, and Seymour said it would be 60 days. The L.M.D.C. has authorized $550,000 to pay Libeskind for the work he has already done.

    Seymour said the agencies and Libeskind will work together to set a master plan to determine things like the floor area ratio and height of the commercial buildings on the site. "We need to set bulk, height, F.A.R., setbacks, angles - these things need to be established," Seymour said.

    Developer Larry Silverstein, who owns the leasing rights to the site, was barely mentioned at the breakfast talk, but immediately afterwards, Rampe said "he'll be involved." Asked if Silverstein had veto power on the commercial guidelines, Rampe said: "We'll be working in coordination. This is a consensus process."

    Silverstein endorsed Libeskind's scheme after it was selected, but he also said the architect would have to work closely with Skidmore Owings & Merrill architects in designing the offices.

    Seymour said he is still negotiating with Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, about swapping the W.T.C. and cash for the city's two airports, but regardless of what happens, the Port would still be involved because it will run the PATH commuter lines. "We are continuing negotiations in the so-called land swap," he said. "If it is completed, it will not alter our role. We are still going to operate the PATH station."

    He also said the Port would work on "enhancing Daniel Libeskind's 'Wedge of Light,' " but he did not clarify the remark. Rampe said any changes to the Wedge would be minor.

    Seymour said the L.M.D.C.'s W.T.C. design meetings helped the Port Authority understand the value of an open design process. "I must confess, it taught the Port Authority a lot about public process," he said. "We've become a kinder, gentler, more sensitive agency."

    Josh@DowntownExpress.com

  3. #3

    Default B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

    It never ends down here, does it?
    The "cover and cut" construction blunts the biggest argument of the Save West St group. They were right about the long tunnel - too expensive for the benefit derived, but sometimes these groups gather momentum and can't stop. They may lose this politically, but they threaten legal action.

    The argument that West St can be made pedestrian friendly like Park Ave is nonsense. This is a freakin' highway with traffic lights.

  4. #4
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    Default B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

    What are they even talking about. In the end, that highway will be diverted underground along with the noise and the traffic barrier. It will be vastly better than it was before - for everybody.

  5. #5

    Default B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

    Of course all the "save West St" geeks can download their fliers in opposition to any tunnel at this website...
    http://www.saveweststreet.com/html/downloads.htm


    And who wouldn't want to save this beautiful highway that effectively severs Battery Park City from the rest of Downtown? Especially considering the alternative could be a beautifully landscaped, pedestrian friendly plaza/blvd on top...
    http://www.pbase.com/image/14378619
    http://www.pbase.com/image/14378709

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    Default B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

    I had the pleasure of endlessly debating one of those "save West St" geeks during the Listening to the City forum. *I'm glad to see the good of the people of NY are going to win this and that he is not getting his way.

  7. #7

    Default B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely

    I really hope that the Libensken plan goes trough. *I think that thee West side high way should remain as it does. *Because putting a tunnel there would be a long, tedious, and VERY COSTLY effort, and with the terrible state of the economy and the dwindling funds of our government, it should be kept the way it was. *Also, who cares? *Its fine the way it is. *I think that it is also the family members of the victims who did this. *They really should be striped of their obtuse power. *It is sickening, repulsive, and undeserved.

  8. #8

    Default West St. tunnel -- some arguments against

    Hi! I just happened across your forum today. I notice that most of the posts are rather old, so I'm not sure if people are still interested, but thought I'd post some anti-tunnel thoughts to provide an alternate viewpoint.

    While it is true that West St. is today, and was just prior to 9/11, an anti-urban highway, it should be recognized that this is because we allowed it to develop into one. So why should we make the problem even worse? Why make West St. into yet even more of a highway than it already is? Why build blighting and dangerous tunnel ramps that would effectively cut off two blocks of Battery Park City worse than any parts of Battery Park City are cut off now?

    The amount of traffic a street carries is not "set in stone" but elastic -- "if you build it they will come." The more highway you build, the more cars you will attract. The less highway you build, the fewer cars you will attract.

    A good example is the fight to close off the portion of Fifth Ave. that used to go right through Washington Sq. Park. Those opposed to closing off Fifth (one of whom was highway builder extraordinaire, Robert Moses) argued that this would create all sorts of traffic jams in surrounding areas. But as Jane Jacobs and others have pointed out, the exact opposit happened. Drivers learned new driving habits to avoid the area and traffic actually went down.

    Note: post 9/11, West St., between Vesey and Liberty, is currently only six lanes wide -- and the world has not come to an end. This is actually quite similar some of the New York City's other very wide streets -- like Houston St., for instance.

    Also, why build an ill-conceived "park" that would border a four block long wall (the loading dock and back side of WFC#2 and WFC#3) and a two-block long pit? (By the way, if I remember correctly, the DOT plans show that the "park" would still have four lanes of moving traffic -- the same as the block of 14th St. between Fourth Ave. and Broadway) and would create a grand total of 24' of "grass" -- 12' on the eastern side of West St. and 12' on a median strip.)

    And would such a four block long "park" really make it easier to cross West St.? Compared to what? Yes, maybe compared to the current status quo, but nobody is recommending that we keep the current status quo.

    A better comparison would be between the so-called park and an improved version of the West St. that existed prior to 9/11 -- i.e., 1) a "traffic-calmed" West St. that would allow pedestrian to more easily cross the whole length of Battery Park City and 2) two or more weather-protected pedestrian bridges that would connect pedestrians directly with the very extensive all-weather concourse of the WFC.

    While a four block long "park" may look nice in the drawings -- these drawings always seem to show the street at noon on a warm, sunny spring or fall day -- what would it be like to cross this park at 2:00 a.m. in the morning, or when there's snow and ice on the ground (we all know that park walkways are the very last walkways in NYC to be made walkable), or when it's freezing and windy, or pouring rain or hot and humid?

    So in real life (and real New York City weather) this "park" like crossing may not be any improvement at all.

    Are these "improvements" really worth an additional $500 million dollars or so? (I forget the exact amount of the difference in cost, but I believe it is around $500 million.)

  9. #9

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    And would such a four block long "park" really make it easier to cross West St.? Compared to what? Yes, maybe compared to the current status quo, but nobody is recommending that we keep the current status quo.

    A better comparison would be between the so-called park and an improved version of the West St. that existed prior to 9/11 -- i.e., 1) a "traffic-calmed" West St. that would allow pedestrian to more easily cross the whole length of Battery Park City and 2) two or more weather-protected pedestrian bridges that would connect pedestrians directly with the very extensive all-weather concourse of the WFC.
    Iíve lived in BPC for a long time, and the comparison is not with the status quo, but with pre 09/11 conditions. It is difficult to traffic calm West St, because it replaced the Miller Highway, a major thru-route. That traffic (i.e Battery to Holland tunnels) still exists, and has nowhere else to go.

    The 2 pedestrian bridges (especially north bridge) only worked for residents, but few on West St used them. Thatís why, in spite of the human density of the WTC and WFC, the Liberty to Vesey stretch was a dead zone. Another example is the bridge at Chambers Ė it is mostly used by students at Stuyvesant with a direct connection. Most others use the street crossing.

    Why build blighting and dangerous tunnel ramps that would effectively cut off two blocks of Battery Park City worse than any parts of Battery Park City are cut off now?
    The streets in question are Barclay St in the north, and Albany St in the south. As for pedestrian traffic, both are one block from major east-west streets (Vesey or Liberty). Iíve heard the argument that a tunnel portal at Albany would impede a left turn north onto West St. Anyone with any driving experience in BPC would never use Albany for a turn north Ė the preferred is Liberty St. As for Barclay, it is not a thru St in BPC and has never been a pedestrian or traffic intersection.

    While a four block long "park" may look nice in the drawings -- these drawings always seem to show the street at noon on a warm, sunny spring or fall day -- what would it be like to cross this park at 2:00 a.m. in the morning, or when there's snow and ice on the ground (we all know that park walkways are the very last walkways in NYC to be made walkable), or when it's freezing and windy, or pouring rain or hot and humid?
    All I can say is that this argument is weak.

    Are these "improvements" really worth an additional $500 million dollars or so? (I forget the exact amount of the difference in cost, but I believe it is around $500 million.)
    The best argument against the tunnel.

  10. #10

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    misterknickerbocker, will the tunnel construction negatively effect you personally? Do you think you will suffer from noise or will the construction impact your ability to drive north?

  11. #11
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    Sometimes you have to make some sacrifises and spend some cash to improve the city overall. Using selfish, short-sighted arguements are not the answer. I'm not saying people here are like this, but there a lot of NIMBYs that are. This is NYC, think BIGGER for God's sake.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by billyblancoNYC
    Sometimes you have to make some sacrifises and spend some cash to improve the city overall. Using selfish, short-sighted arguements are not the answer. I'm not saying people here are like this, but there a lot of NIMBYs that are. This is NYC, think BIGGER for God's sake.
    I think the objections to the tunnel that have been stated on this site are that it will make Lower Manhattan WORSE not BETTER, at least for us area residents who will have to cross in front of tunnel ramps just to get to and from our homes. Motorists may benefit, in that they will be able to skip a couple stoplights, but since when do we spend $1 billion to make things better for cars and worse for pedestrians?

  13. #13

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    [quote="ZippyTheChimp"][quote]
    The streets in question are Barclay St in the north, and Albany St in the south. As for pedestrian traffic, both are one block from major east-west streets (Vesey or Liberty). Iíve heard the argument that a tunnel portal at Albany would impede a left turn north onto West St. Anyone with any driving experience in BPC would never use Albany for a turn north Ė the preferred is Liberty St. As for Barclay, it is not a thru St in BPC and has never been a pedestrian or traffic intersection. [quote]

    I always take my lefts from Albany, as do many other motorists. The Liberty Street intersection is always gridlocked, whereas lefts from Albany on to West Street run quickly. The reason for this is that, pre 9/11, lefts were illegal from Albany, and lots of drivers, including most taxis, have not figured out of the rule change. Plus, heading northbound on South End Avenue, you can skip the super-slow traffic light at the corner of South End and Liberty (added only a few months before 9/11). Are you sure you still live in BPC? Your info seems out of date. Is you do, what are your reasons for saying that Liberty Street is "preferred"?

  14. #14

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    always take my lefts from Albany, as do many other motorists. The Liberty Street intersection is always gridlocked, whereas lefts from Albany on to West Street run quickly. The reason for this is that, pre 9/11, lefts were illegal from Albany
    The conditions that are relevant are pre-9/11. Or did you and all these other motorists just ignore traffic rules? Did you live here pre 9/11?

    If Liberty St is gridlocked, how can it not affect Albany, especially when a left turn brings you right into the gridlock. These traffic arguments against the tunnel are trivial.


    Are you sure you still live in BPC?
    I have lived in BPC since there was a BPC. I suspect you are a newcomer. Mrknickerbocker should at least admit that he's a resident.

  15. #15

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    From all I've read from the BPC residents against the tunnel it seems that everything is nothing more than a cover for the 2 real reasons they are against it.

    1. They fear the consturction noise and inconvenience.
    2. The fear it will be disruptive to their driving paterns.

    It is ultimately for selfish reasons.

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