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More Press on Paterson's Announcement

Eliot Brown writes about Paterson's new direction for Moynihan Station in today'sNew York Observer.

Consistent with the project’s history, the pledge represents another turn in the project’s direction under new leadership. In prior permutations, the focus has been on revenue for the Post Office; an expansion of the train hall; a medium-size real estate transaction; and a mega-land-swap and an economic development project of gigantic proportions. The most recent plan, which was pushed by the Spitzer administration and which unraveled in March, involved moving Madison Square Garden to the Farley building and thereby unleashing $14 billion in public and private development.

Now, the Paterson administration seems to be focusing on rail capacity; the platforms and tracks under Penn Station have room for no more trains at peak hours, given the way they are currently used, and the prior plans involved a much-needed expansion of pedestrian and waiting space, but did not address this issue.

Read Paterson Takes His Turn on Moynihan by Eliot Brown of the New York Observer.

Read David Paterson: Port Authority should get ticket for new Penn Station by Douglas Feiden of the Daily News.

Read Paterson Wants Port Authority to Pick Up Moynihan Project by William Neuman of the New York Times.


Paterson Makes Bold Statement in Support of the Construction of Moynihan Station

Today Governor David Paterson made a bold statement in support of the construction of Moynihan Station when he announced conditions related to the future of Moynihan Station at New York Building Congress forum. He emphasized the critical importance for the project to emphasize infrastructure improvements and to that end announced that the Port Authority of New York would be taking over the project.

The Governor said that while New York City and State are in a difficult economic climate, fiscal responsibility is not just about reducing spending; it’s about making wise investments. Throughout New York State’s history, the government has moved ahead with infrastructure projects during times of financial insolvency. For example, the state was facing a deficit for seven of the ten years it took to construct the Erie Canal and the Lincoln Tunnel, George Washington Bridge and the Independent Subway System (IND) were all constructed during the Depression.

New York City was in the midst of a fiscal crisis during the construction of the historic Penn Station. “By any measure the 20th century was the New York Century. We entered it as a burgeoning metropolis and we left it as the greatest and most powerful city in the world. We can make the 21st century the New York Century as well, but only if we invest wisely in our infrastructure.”

Paterson said the Federal government must put together a plan for the nation’s infrastructure so we may reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and avoid catastrophic disasters like last year’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis. He also decried the Federal government's “starving” of Amtrak and reduction of slots at the city’s airports. The Governor said that we must bolster the rail options between Washington DC, Boston and other cities within 300 miles of New York City. Rail is the most fuel-efficient way to move people,, and it is critical that we lighten the loads of our airlines and on our highways. In the absence of a Federal transportation plan, Paterson said the State must develop its own plan.

“It is fitting that 100 years after the building of the first Penn Station, we assess our infrastructure priorities and establish clear conditions for the future of transportation in our State,” said Governor Paterson. “If we are to realize our full potential for growth in the 21st century, then we must look to increase our rail capacity. That is why today I have outlined the conditions that I believe must be met if we are to move forward with the Moynihan Station project. Moynihan must be more than a beautiful station; it must move more people more efficiently.”

The Governor’s specific conditions for Moynihan Station development include:

1. Ensuring that the Moynihan Station project increases transportation capacity by physically expanding the number of tracks and platforms and instituting operational changes by Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.

Paterson announced that he was asking the leadership of the three railroads to report to himself and Governor Corzine on how they planned to work together.

2. Coordinating the development of Moynihan Station in tandem with other major development projects including New Jersey’s Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) which is the first crossing under the Hudson in 50 years;

The Governor made it clear that it would be a formidable challenge to ensure that the project will be coordinated with major infrastructure projects like ARC and unifying the three transit systems of Amtrak, Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit. “This is why we want the Port Authority to take over the leadership in terms of constructing Moynihan Station, and what we are really saying is that with such major development occurring, there has to be coordination,” the governor said.

3. Taking necessary steps to ensure that the project also helps to revitalize the surrounding community.

While the Governor acknowledged the importance of making Moynihan Station a Gateway to New York city and catalyst for development on the Far West Side, he said first and foremost this is a transportation project.

“Increasing our transportation capacity is an important step, but it is only a one step. We must ensure that we carefully coordinate the improved capacity with other major development and infrastructure projects, which is why today, I called on my Deputy Secretary for Economic Development, and Infrastructure to convene all of the project’s partners from both the public and private sectors to discuss the challenges they face,” Governor Paterson continued. “Deputy Secretary Gilchrist will report back to me with an assessment of these challenges and potential solutions.” “By any measure the 20th century was the New York Century. We entered it as a burgeoning metropolis and we left it as the greatest and most powerful city in the world. We can make the 21st century the New York Century as well, but only if we invest wisely in our infrastructure,” added Governor Paterson.

Read Governor Paterson's press release.
Read Paterson Invokes New Deal in Calling for Fresh Moynihan Plan by Eliot Brown in The New York Observer.
Read Paterson Gives Moynihan Another Shot by Matthew Schuerman of WNYC.
Read Paterson appoints aide to look into Moynihan by Theresa Agovino of Crain's New York.


MAS Response to Paterson's Moynihan Station Plan

Today Governor David Paterson announced conditions related to the future of Moynihan Station at New York Building Congress forum. Kent Barwick, President of Municipal Art Society, commented on the Governor's plans:

“The original Penn Station, while architecturally spectacular, was primarily a visual symbol of a great transportation system. The tunnels that lead into that station, which connected New York City to the mainland for the first time, were engineering marvels of the time. The Penn Station architecture was important and beloved, but the infrastructure it housed was a critical element of New York City’s rise to its position as the nation’s greatest city.

“Paterson reminds us that, at this time in our history, it’s time to revive the railroad, and we couldn’t agree more with his priorities. We must put transportation first. Penn Station was built in the beginning of 20th century, and we are confident that it is possible now, at the beginning of the 21st century, to accomplish the Governor’s transportation priorities while also creating the great entryway into New York City that Senator Moynihan envisioned.

“Paterson’s plan of investment in the economy and our rail system shows a comprehensive grasp of all of the issues that the station embodies, from infrastructure to architecture. When MAS conducted a poll last year, we learned that people were dismayed with the inefficient and sloppy management of Penn Station. We know it will be difficult to work through the management problems with the three railroads, but we are confident it is possible.

“We support the Governor’s approach and vision and we are pleased that the Port Authority has been given responsibility for this project -- they have the capacity, resources and management to bring this project to fruition. We look forward to deputy secretary Gilchrist’s plan of action.”


Paterson Wants More Transportation Improvements at Moynihan Station

This morning Governor Patterson addressed the future of Moynihan Station, among other issues, at the Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum. Below is his response to the question "Will Major Infrastructure Projects – Like Moynihan Station - Be Completed In Your First Term"?

What is essential to Moynihan Station is that it be a viable transportation hub. That if it doesn’t include the transportation, its value diminishes considerably as far as I’m concerned,

We are still trying to get Amtrak and our local transit systems to agree on how we could reroute transit and turn this into what would really be, in a sense, a favorable investment of our resources.

I believe shortly Governor Corzine and I will probably go and meet with AMTRAK, because one of their plans, coincides with ours -- the ARC plan and we’d like to try to that get done.

Everyone understands that the economy is a problem but my project must go forward. I don’t see how they can all go forward. The resources aren’t there. The capital isn’t there. And everybody wants to come to the government to be part of the solution. And right now the government is floundering because we have these huge deficits that we have to ameliorate.

It sounds positive that Governors Paterson and Corzine are talking to Amtrak. Perhaps this means there's potential for the ARC/Penn Station connection. Let's hope they announce a plan to move forward soon.

Read "Paterson Argues for Spending Cuts" on Crain's site.

Read "Paterson Won’t Rule Out Tax Increases" by Nicholas Confessore in The New York Times.


August: A Recap.

August has been a pretty slow news month in terms of our primary issue, the construction of a new Penn Station. No news on who will be taking over the construction of a New Penn Station. No news on the scope of the new plan.

But there’s been other, related news that’s important.

Paterson has announced a new head for the New York State Economic Development Corporation, the agency that currently oversees the Moynihan Station development, Marisa Lago. Lago is a global head of compliance at Citi Markets and Banking, to be president and chief executive; and he named Dennis M. Mullen, the chief executive of Greater Rochester Enterprise, an economic development company, to oversee the agency’s upstate operations. According to the Times,

The economic development corporation has been beset with geographic rivalries as downstate and upstate interests within the agency fought. Mr. Paterson said Friday that he hoped his nominees would bridge the longstanding divide between upstate and downstate interests.

“We’re one state,” he said. “What I would like to do is send the signal from Albany that we want the most efficient way of saving money and creating the revitalization of our upstate economy and the return to New York City as a financial capital with the right people. And I think that’s what we chose.”

There have been a lot of national stories about the overcrowding of AMTRAK and the potential for increased Federal Funding. Today's Boston Globe describes
AMTRAK’s struggle to expand Acela service, which they may accomplish through adding extra cars. According to the article, any expansion “would require more funding for Amtrak, a "political football" that has struggled for aid in President Bush's administration.”

Maybe all the attention Biden is getting for commuting on AMTRAK every day will help increase the funding. Yesterday, Eliot Brown, in the New York Observer, questioned whether the nation’s crumbling infrastructure will be a factor in the national presidential campaigns.

There's forces adding urgency to the infrastructure push: passenger rail is at or near capacity in much of the entire Northeast corridor, a condition exacerbated as high fuel prices push more people onto trains. And the gas tax (a flat-rate 18.4 cents per gallon) that funds highways and transit projects is taking in substantially less revenue as Americans cut back on their driving.

Mr. Obama supports a national federal infrastructure bank, where money would theoretically be divvied out in a methodical manner, as opposed to the earmark/pork-heavy process that characterizes many federally funded projects.

Mr. McCain is more silent on the issue, at least on his Web site, but last year's Minneapolis bridge collapse--which has become a national symbol for crumbling infrastructure--is sure to be an issue when the Republican National Convention begins across the river in St. Paul.

Read “Governor Names 2 to State’s Troubled Economic Development Agency” In the New York Times by Jeremy W. Peters.

Read “Infrastructure as Campaign Theme? Perhaps.” by Eliot Brown in the New York Observer.”

Read “Acela Trains May Expand to Meet Demand” in the Boston Globe.

Photo via flickr from Snowdog.


Paterson Asks Developers for New Moynihan Plans

When asked today on WCBS Radio about the status of Moynihan Station, Governor Paterson said that the state has asked the developers to come back with new plans.

A listener asked:

"Governor Paterson, what is the status of Moynihan Station and the purposed new Penn Station (also involving a new Madison Square Garden if the full plan goes forward). Is that plan dead, or is there potential for the project to move forward?"

The Governor responded:

"We have asked the developers of the potential Moynihan Station to come back to us with another plan that particularly features the subject we've been talking about today--transportation. Already we have addressed with them the dwindling supply of revenues that we as the state can put into the plan, and we're expecting an answer form them within a week or two."

He didn't clarify the transportation improvements he had in mind, but one would assume he could be referring to the negotiations on ARC, or maybe AMTRAK's proposed high speed rail (see ”New DC/NY High Speed Rail Link?” and “DC/NY High Speed Rail Legislation Advances in House.”).

Let's hope those plans become public soon.

Listen to Governor Paterson speak with Wayne Cabot and Steve Scott on WCBS Radio. He discusses Moynihan Station at minute 11:50.

Paterson Wants New Moynihan Station Plan From Developers, Eliot Brown for New York Observer.


Bloomberg and Paterson to Hold Monthly Meetings on Moynihan

In a promising sign for the future of Moynihan Station, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson held their first meeting to discuss Moynihan, the World Trade Center site, and other major projects yesterday. Here is a report from the Sun:

The first monthly meeting was held yesterday afternoon at the governor's Manhattan office. Mr. Bloomberg, who spoke to reporters after the sit-down, said it went well and credited the governor for making sure there is a good line of communication between the city and Albany.

"We worked well with the Pataki administration and with the Spitzer administration, but David Paterson seems particularly open to it," he said, according to a transcript of comments he made after the meeting, which was provided by an aide to the mayor.

Mr. Bloomberg did not hold regular, monthly meetings with governors Spitzer or Pataki. He said he has a formal meeting with the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, once a week.

The meetings with the governor may be part of an effort to promote a unified relationship. Last month, the two leaders sought to distance themselves from a report that said the governor, in a private conversation, called Mr. Bloomberg an untrustworthy, angry man who is out of touch with regular New Yorkers.

Adding further pressure to the relationship are polls showing that the mayor would be a popular gubernatorial candidate, even though he has said he will not run for the office.

Read “Bloomberg, Paterson Seek to Chart Unified Course,” by Grace Rauh for The New York Sun


City Lightens Up to Putting Port Authority in Control

Today at a Crain’s breakfast, Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber expressed interest in the Port Authority taking over Moynihan – “they have money,” he said. This comes one month after Mayor Bloomberg deemed it a “horrible idea.” Crain’s has a recap and video.


House Passes Amtrak Bill, Paterson Announces MTA Commission

The Amtrak bill that would solicit private sector proposals to build a high speed rail link between DC and NY passed the House on Tuesday. Gannett News reports that the 227-187 margin fell short of the majority required to override a Bush veto.

In addition to providing Amtrak operating subsidies over five years, the measure seeks to boost investment in high-speed rail.

It also calls for opening up the Washington-to-Boston route and 10 others across the country to private competitors — something Democrats such as Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey strongly oppose.

Though President Bush likes the bill’s privatization proposal, he rejects boosting funding for passenger rail if Amtrak isn’t held more accountable and doesn’t change the way it does business, the White House said in a statement explaining the veto threat.

Lautenberg, meanwhile, co-wrote an $11.4 billion Amtrak bill that passed the Senate 70-22 in October.

House and Senate negotiators have to come up with a compromise bill, which would then have to pass Congress and win Bush's signature to become law.

In other news, Governor Paterson announced his appointments to a commission on MTA financing. Richard Ravitch, former head of the MTA, will chair the commission. Appointees include MTA CEO Lee Sander, developer Douglas Durst, Con Ed chair Kevin Burke, and former Port Authority director Peter Goldmark. Excerpts from a press statement:

Governor David A. Paterson today appointed 12 members to the Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Financing, to be chaired by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch. The Commission is charged with recommending strategies to fund MTA capital projects and operating needs over the next ten years, a period when the Authority will be under unprecedented financial pressure as it expands its system and rebuilds its core infrastructure to provide the additional capacity needed to allow the region to grow. Governor Paterson announced in April that Richard Ravitch would head the Commission in wake of the failure of the congestion pricing proposal, which would have provided an additional revenue stream to the MTA….More here.


Paterson Makes Appointment to Port Authority Board

The New York Observer reports that Governor Paterson has nominated Stanley Grayson, the former deputy mayor under Koch, to take the place of Bruce Blakeman, a Pataki administration appointee, on the Port Authority’s governing board. The governors of New York and New Jersey each appoint six members to the board for overlapping six year terms. Last month, Paterson appointee Chris Ward assumed the head role at the agency, which may take over the Moynihan Station project.

Statement from the governor's office, courtesy of the Observer:

Stanley E. Grayson has been nominated as a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Mr. Grayson is currently the President and Chief Operating Officer of M. R. Beal and Company, an investment banking firm focused on public finance, corporate debt and equity, fixed-income sales and trading, and financial advisory services. Prior to joining M. R. Beal in 2002, Mr. Grayson was a Managing Director and Manager of Prudential Securities Public Finance Department and member of the firm’s Operating Committee where he oversaw the public finance activities of Prudential Securities. Prior to joining Prudential Securities, from 1990 to 1996 Mr. Grayson was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in the Municipal Bond Department’s Infrastructure and General Banking Group.

Prior to his investment-banking career, Mr. Grayson held several senior positions within New York City Government, including Deputy Mayor for Finance and Economic Development, Finance Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Industrial Development Agency. Mr. Grayson began his legal career in the Law Department of the Metropolitan Life Company.

Mr. Grayson serves on the Board of Directors of New York Catholic Charities, The Faith Center for Community Development, The Alliance for Downtown Business, The New York City School Construction Authority and is a Trustee of The Churchill School and Center. He received his BA from the College of Holy Cross and his JD from the University of Michigan Law School.

As a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Mr. Grayson will not receive a salary. This appointment requires Senate confirmation.

Read “Paterson Taps Koch Deputy Mayor for Port Authority Board,” by Eliot Brown for The New York Observer