New York governor aims to “raise spirits” with $306bn infrastructure spend

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York state, has put his faith in building projects to revive the state’s economy and "lift the spirits" of the population.

Governor Cuomo said in his "state of the state" address that New York would spend $306bn on infrastructure, which he said was the largest allocation in the US. This will include a $51bn plan to redevelop Manhattan’s Midtown West neighbourhood, including the replacement of the Port Authority bus terminal, one of the city’s most familiar landmarks.

Other beneficiaries are the state’s airports, railways and roads, which the governor said would be brought "into the 21st century", and infrastructure to attract tourists to areas outside New York with tourist potential.

Cuomo said in his address that part of the point of the public spending was to create confidence, and he referenced Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal strategy in the 1930s.

Roosevelt, he said "understood that it was not the buildings and programmes themselves that actually turned around the economy, it was the people. Building new projects enhances day-to-day life. Seeing progress lifts peoples’ spirits. And building with bricks and mortar also builds public optimism and confidence."

The main item picked on Cuomo’s list is the implementation of "a bold transit-oriented development plan" for Midtown West.

The aim is to create 196,000 jobs, outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improved public transit and pedestrian connections, and bring commercial and affordable housing opportunities to the burgeoning Manhattan neighbourhood.

More specifically, the plan will replace the "outdated" Port Authority Bus Terminal with a "state-of-the-art" facility.

Some $16bn will be spent on a renewal and expansion of Penn Station. The aim is to add 40% more train capacity and at least eight underground tracks to improve operations for the 600,000 passengers who use it a day.

The "outdated" Port Authority (Hudconja/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The transformation of Penn Station will prepare the way for the "Gateway Project" – two new tunnels to bring trains across the Hudson.

Midtown West will also be the site for housing and commercial developments. The state is hoping to see 14 buildings between Broadway and the Hudson, adding more than 20 million sq ft of retail, commercial and residential area, as well as 1,400 affordable housing units.

Pier 76 will be converted from a New York Police Department car pound to a 5.6-acre expansion of Hudson River Park.

The Javits Convention Centre will be expanded by 1.2 million sq ft at a cost of $1.5bn. Work on this is already under way and will be completed this year.

As well as the work on Midtown West, the state will continue with its $8bn refurbishment of LaGuardia Airport, including the $2bn AirTrain and the new Delta Airways’ terminal and concourses on the airport’s east side. Work will also continue on the $13bn refurb of JFK Airport.

Other notable items on the list include projects already begun to expand Binghamton University Health Sciences Campus ($287m) and to build a greenfield hospital near the city of Utica in the Mohawk Valley ($548m).

Top image: A rendering of the new Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue (Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Office)

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