It has been a busy week for the Lower Manhattan rebuilding program. In a speech today before the Association before a Better New York, Governor Pataki gave his semi-annual report on progress downtown. As usual, he took the occasion to make a bit of news:
- Freedom Tower. Construction of the 1,776-foot skyscraper will begin on July 4, 2004, about two months earlier than previously announced.
- The Memorial. Schematic drawings will be completed by the end of 2004 and detailed drawings by the end of 2005, with construction to begin by 2006. Some $350 million will need to be raised to pay for it. Major League Baseball got the ball rolling with a $1 million contribution.
- Fulton Street Transit Center. Design of the new transit hub that will link 12 subway lines at the corner of Fulton & Broadway will be unveiled on May 26, 2004.
- Deutsche Bank Building. Demolition of the crippled shell that was once Deutsche Bank's (and, before that, Bankers Trust's) downtown headquarters will begin in the fall and be completed in 2005.
- West Street Promenade. The project intended to turn West Street into New York's version of the Champs-Elysee will begin in September, and the first section - from Washington Street to West Thames Street - will be complete by the end of 2005.
- South Ferry Terminal. A new subway terminal at South Ferry has completed initial design and should open by 2007. The project will replace an antiquated subway station dating from 1905, and will also provide a new free transfer to the Whitehall Street Station on the Broadway Line.
- Battery Park Ferry Terminal. Construction on a new Battery Park City Ferry Terminal has begun, with completion scheduled for 2006.
Pataki also elaborated on plans leaked to the press earlier in the week for a JFK-LIRR-Lower Manhattan Rail Link. The Governor favors a new East River tunnel, which (along with infrastructure on either side of the river) would cost at least $6.0 billon. No one yet knows where such a vast sum would come from, but Pataki pledged to begin the environmental review process this summer, and to find the money somehow before that process is completed. The study will also consider using the existing Montague Street Tunnel, which serves M and R trains today, but has some spare capacity. The Montague option, although less expensive, would severely constrict the subway system's capacity to grow or adapt to service outages.
The Governor believes the new tunnel could be operational by 2013. He says it would carry 100,000 passengers a day and would result in an increased economic output of $6 to 8 billion annually in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and as much as $9 to 12 billion in the region as a whole. You can expect that there will be plenty of skeptics wondering where those figures come from.