Updated at 11pm: What’s Today’s Argument for Subway Expansion?

  • Posted at 11:46, November 04, 2013 Updated:11:11, Nov 04
  • By Russ Bleemer

Two of the city’s top property titans take an enthusiastic editorial page stand in this morning’s New York Daily News to advance regional development by resurrecting an old call for extending the MTA’s 7 subway line to Secaucus.

It’s an idea that everyone likes, but the costs seem to have rendered prohibitive.

The old argument provided today is that the new tunnel that the project would require would be very good for developing the region by helping access. 

But also, clearly, the tunnel would be a very good thing for the authors' businesses and constituencies.

Jerry Gottesman and Steven Spinola write that the 7 train will make the Hudson Yards development “[o]ne of the city’s most exciting neighborhoods,” so “why stop there?”

Their argument, which can be found here, digs into the potential to expand the Frank R. Lautenberg Secaucus Junction Train Station, but not just for a one-seat New Jersey trip for Queens travelers and Amtrak patrons.  It also casts the station as a new bus depot.

The op-ed makes a strong argument to develop the center to alleviate the daily logjam getting into and out of the Port Authority bus station.

The addition of the 7 line would make the Lautenberg station “the transit connection of choice for many of the millions of New Jersey commuters each day, linking this key workforce seamlessly to the Hudson Yards, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, Long Island City and Flushing.”

The ability to move people more efficiently, the authors are arguing, would spur development all over the area. 

The sweeping potential benefits for Hudson Yards and beyond suits Spinola, who heads the Real Estate Board of New York, a professional group of more than 13,000 New York real estate professionals that lobbies Albany for development incentives.  The group likely will have its hands full pushing New York and New Jersey politicians and transportation authorities.  The op-ed says that a new tunnel-and-alternatives viability study will cost $2 million.

Moreover, a lot of Lautenberg station users likely wouldn’t be training it in.  That’s surely fine by Gottesman, who is the head of Edison Properties, a developer of ubiquitous parking garages, and which already has more than 1,000 spots at the Lautenberg facility. 

The rail station lived for its first four years as a ghost town--a barely used, single-purpose New Jersey Turnpike exit until Edison added the commuter spots in 2009.  Rental apartments opened around the same time livened up the exit area, but the potential for further development—let alone many more parking spots--at the site would be spurred by the rail tunnel. 

A similar trans-Hudson proposal that would have provided a tunnel into the Hudson Yards/Penn Station area from New Jersey was killed three years ago by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie because he believed the costs for the tunnel would fall too heavily on his state.

At that time Christie, echoing a push by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, backed the 7 extension alternative. 

The new Gottesman/Spinola article notes that the 7 train proposal has been studied for three years by the mayor and a “bi-state multi-agency task force,” but doesn’t state that last year, Bloomberg’s team had said the plan wasn’t viable, at least not immediately, and focused instead on the NYC Hudson 7 stations.

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