Victory for New York in Federal Transportation Bill
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY) joined several members of the New York Congressional delegation in announcing a victory for New York in increased funding levels authorized for the State in today’s Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), as agreed upon by a conference committee of House and Senate legislators. Because earlier versions of the bill have already passed the House and Senate, final approval by Congress on today’s compromise legislation is widely anticipated.
The legislation authorizes funding for the six Fiscal Years 2004 through 2009, including $10.07 billion for New York’s highway system, a 19% increase over the nation’s prior transportation authorization bill (TEA-21), and $6.476 billion for New York’s transit systems, a 30% increase over TEA-21. The bill covers 2004 and 2005 retroactively, because TEA-21 had only authorized transportation spending through 2003.
Congresswoman Maloney said, “Let’s make no mistake about it - this bill is a big victory for New York. We thought we were going to see a large cut in transportation spending for our state. Instead, we will benefit from a large increase. This windfall, which will help ease transportation headaches for New Yorkers, is the product of commitment and unity by our state’s hard working Congressional delegation. New York’s senators are also to be applauded, they are tremendously effective, and New York transportation will benefit because of it. Tonight, when this bill comes up for a vote on the House floor, I will proudly vote “yes” because I know that it is a victory for the great state of New York.”
Maloney also announced the advance of federal funding in the legislation for five New York transportation projects that will benefit the neighborhoods of Western Queens and the East Side of Manhattan.
Funding Authorized for Five Transit Projects in the 14th Congressional District
Congresswoman Maloney was instrumental in securing the inclusion of the following funds for New York transportation projects in today’s legislation:
- $6.4 million to advance the reconstruction of Queens Plaza on the eastern end of the Queensborough Bridge
- $1.92 million to contribute toward the full reconstruction of all the streets in Long Island City, Queens surrounding 11th Street
- $1.2 million for the reconstruction of Times and Duffy Squares in New York City
- $400,000 for the reconstruction of Herald and Greeley Squares in New York City
- $4.4 million to contribute toward the development of terminal facilities for water taxi projects in numerous locations in New York City
Congresswoman Maloney said, “A healthy economy and a good quality of life for the people of Queens and Manhattan begins in large part with a sound transit infrastructure. I am pleased to announce the advance of these federal funds to improve several of the gateways, neighborhood streets and public squares of the 14th Congressional District which I have the honor to represent.”
Second Avenue Subway & East Side Access Advance As Well
In addition, Congresswoman Maloney heralded news that the Second Avenue Subway and the LIRR’s East Side Access project were included in the same legislation.
Congresswoman Maloney said, “The Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access earned a place in this legislation based on the clear merits of both projects and from the hard work of New York’s Congressional delegation. This is a major victory for New York, because our key transit projects made the list of those authorized by Congress for funding, in heavily competitive environment.”
Background: On February 10, 2005, the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) designated East Side Access and the Second Avenue Subway as “highly recommended” projects, the only projects included in TEA-LU to receive that designation. The FTA made the recommendations in its Fiscal Year 2006 New Starts Program Report. In addition, the Report announced that the FTA's 2006 budget includes $158 million in federal funds to be distributed to the Second Avenue Subway and five other projects from around the country, and $390 million for East Side Access.
Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Hillary Clinton announced earlier this week the inclusion of $340 million for the LIRR’s East Side Access and $25 million for the Second Avenue subway, in the Senate’s version of the FY 2006 Transportation Appropriations bill as reported out of Senate Committee.
On March 10, 2005, Congresswoman Maloney announced the inclusion of the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access projects in H.R. 3, the version of Tea-Lu originally passed by the House. Once the bill becomes law, these two major New York City infrastructure projects would receive federal funds "for final design and construction for fiscal years 2004 through 2009." The six year authorization bill is retroactive to 2004, because the prior legislation had authorized funds through 2003.
Second Avenue Subway: The Second Avenue Subway would be New York's first new subway line in generations. It would relieve massive congestion on the most overcrowded subway route in the nation - the 4, 5, and 6 IRT trains on Manhattan's East Side. Congresswoman Maloney has for years made the Second Avenue subway her top public transit priority, advocating and winning federal funds for the project and advancing the economic and transit rationale for the project in numerous public venues.
Congress approved $2.5 million for the project for Fiscal Year 2005, $2 million for FY '04, $2 million for '03, $2 million for '02 and $3 million for 2000, for a total of $11.5 million. In addition, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver secured $1.05 billion in funding for the project from New York State in 2000.
Recently, the MTA designated a portion of the full-length Second Avenue Subway as a minimum operating segment (MOS). The MOS would run from 96th to 63rd Street, where it would connect with the N/R tracks and continue down to Wall Street and Brooklyn. It is projected to cost $3.8 billion. The MTA's willingness to divide the project into workable segments helped win the high rating from the FTA. The Second Avenue Subway had been several years behind East Side Access, but it has now received all of the necessary approvals to enable it to qualify for Federal New Start funds.
The Regional Plan Association (RPA) estimates that the full-length Second Avenue Subway will create significant economic growth for New York City, including the creation of approximately 70,000 jobs during construction and an additional 86,000 jobs after construction. The RPA also determined that the project could generate more than $14.4 billion in annual Gross City Product (a measure of all the goods and services produced in the city), $7 billion in additional wages, and $1.26 billion in economic activity per year in the city. The RPA's report is available at: http://www.rpa.org/pdf/2ndAvenue.pdf.
When completed, the Second Avenue Subway will carry approximately 600,000 people daily. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) completed its environmental review of the project in the fall of 2003 and received a Record of Decision from the FTA during the summer of 2004. In the fall of 2004, the MTA concluded preliminary engineering and is now in the process of initiating the project's final design and construction.
In December of 2001, the MTA Board approved a $200 million contract for preliminary engineering for the full length Second Avenue Subway project (which has now been completed). This work included the design of the tunnel structures from 125th Street to lower Manhattan and the rehabilitation of the existing tunnels to conform to new tunnel construction. It also included the design of station envelopes, utilities, track work, mechanical systems, life safety systems, communications systems and maintenance facilities and storage yards.
East Side Access: The project would bring approximately 160,000 new passengers, including 5,000 residents of Western Queens, into Grand Central Station. East Side Access would also be used by commuters heading to the fast-growing Long Island City business district, the fourth-largest business center in New York City. Congresswoman Maloney has been a strong supporter of the East Side Access project, and has worked with her colleagues in the New York Delegation to procure Congressional earmarks for the project totaling $257.2 million since FY 1998.
The LIRR, the bus and subway system and the highways are all at or near capacity at rush hour. Congestion leads to increased commuting times and greater difficulties getting to work, which, in turn, compromises New York City's job base (and Long Island's residential base). Penn Station is already at capacity. The increase in commuters is expected to push trains coming into Penn Station to 127% of capacity.
Manhattan has experienced a tremendous growth in new office space since World War II - nearly 213 million square feet with 62% of that new building happening in East Midtown (nearly 132 million square feet). At the same time, more people who work in Manhattan are living in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Employment in Manhattan is projected to grow 21% by 2020, with the size of the labor force living in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens expected to increase by 28% during that period. 60% of the 260,000 daily Long Island commuters work on the East Side. (LI Business News, July 21, 1997)
LIRR trains enter Manhattan on the East Side through the East River Tunnels at 33rd Street, but passengers cannot disembark until they reach Penn Station on the West Side. They must then double back to reach their destinations on the East Side, adding 15-30 minutes each day to their commutes.
After 9/11, the MTA issued a report stating "It was clearly the flexibility and capacity of the subway system in Lower Manhattan that helped the MTA through this ordeal. That makes more critical than ever the two important system capacity expansion projects (East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway). The report also says: "The tragedy of Sept 11 has taught the MTA a critical lesson that will guide its longer-term transportation strategies for decades to come. Had the MTA been directly affected at either of its two rail stations (Penn Station or Grand Central) or on the sole subway line on the East Side of Manhattan, its ability to evacuate over 500,000 commuter rail customers who live east or north of Manhattan and another 700,000 who take the subway on the East Side of Manhattan would have been severely diminished."