Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Spin Against Westway and Fiscal - Social Responsibility

Killing the goose that would lay the golden egg of a modern underground highway better controlling pollution, new parkland and development providing perpetual added property tax revenues, for the sake of subsidizing the questionable book keeping of the NY transit agencies (along with distracting from the far, far greater expenditures upon the growing prison state/cigarette phama protectionist rackett known as the 'drug war')

Westway Project (1974-1985)

Russianoff writes in Huff Post:

In New York City's long tradition of fighting City Hall, one of the most spectacular examples happened a quarter century ago this week.

It was 1985, when local elected representatives, community members,transportation and environmental advocates, fiscal conservatives and the U.S. Congress forced State and City officials to "trade-in" a planned Interstate highway and river development project known as Westway. The highway would have been built off of Manhattan's West Side and been partly constructed through landfill poured in the Hudson River.

The federal share of Westway's pricetag - $1.725 billion - was reallocated to fix our crumbling subways and buses (more than $1 billion) and to a more modest rehabilitation of West Street (several hundred million.)

Westway's supporters saw the project as a way to gain money from Washington and provide development opportunities off of the West Side of Manhattan. The highway's failure to move forward was another sign of how hard it was to advance construction projects in New York, they claimed.

Opponents saw the project as a misguided allocation of precious federal dollars at a time when our transit network was staggering under decades of inadequate funding. In the early 1980's, riders were plagued by derailments, track fires, crime, breakdowns, slow and unreliable service, boarding vehicles with non-working doors, inadequate lighting and graffiti.

For us, winning more than a billion dollars for transit was the right priority, as was keeping landfill out of the Hudson River.

That would be a rather expensive transfer:

The project received formal approval in 1976. At the time, its estimated cost was $1.2 billio. Not one penny was to come from he City of New York. The project actually generated cash for the city. Ninety percent of the project's cost (aquisition, demolition of the abandoned piers, landfill, parks, new streets, ect.) was to come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund. The rest would be paid by New York State. Westway would assume responsibility fort he City's Hudson River piers and pay for demolishing them. It would pay for building a new municipal incinerator and bus garage. Better yet, the city would recieve cash for its property. In 1981, President Reagan even arrived with a giant sized reproduction of the $85 million.

The American city: what works, what doesn't By Alexander Garvin p 459

The Huff Post- Russianoff piece months later shows 1 comment (comments closed)

jl4141 04:56 PM on 9/29/2010 187 Fans

Nonsense. The defeat of Westway was the result of one of the most ill-consid­ered and misguided political campaigns in New York City history. There would have been long stretches of undergroun­d highway atop which would have been built plenty of new parkland. Instead we have had never-endi­ng traffic congestion and far, far more automotive pollution, which has surely brought about serious health problems for residents, visitors, and commuters, than we would have had had the project succeeded. Westway was unfairly tarnished as a boondoggle and environmen­tal nightmare, but that's what we (ironicall­y) achieved by defeating it.

The Village Voice article meanwhile, as of this writing months afterwards, show zero comments- an astonishing amount for what Russianoff and the Village Voice present as such a great example of citizen activism.

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