Will “Atlantic Yards” Kill the JFK-Lower Manhattan Rail Link?


The Atlantic Yards plan superimposed on the released JFK-to-Lower Manhattan rail link study (PDF docs). Click here for a much bigger map.

Jonathan Cohn at BrooklynViews is reporting that the current plan for Forest City Enterprises’ Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn appears to preclude the possibility of someday building one of the Pataki Administration’s favorite regional transit projects, the fabled "one seat ride" rail link from Lower Manhattan to JFK Airport (and Long Island). Perhaps some of the transportation pros and policy wonks here on Streetsblog can shed some light on this:

We have no reason to believe that the current plan for Atlantic Yards is making any provision for the rail link. The MTA’s belated Request for Proposals for the disposition of Vanderbilt Yard indicated that the only operational issues that need to be considered are to provide additional storage; it made no mention of accommodating a possible future rail link. And in the Memorandum of Understanding between Forest City Ratner and the MTA, the required ongoing operational functions of Vanderbilt Yard are listed, but there is no mention of intent to provide for a future rail link. The only mention of the rail link in the EIS came in responses to questions, which basically state that the link was not studied since it will have its own EIS (Responses 29, 13-42). In other words, whatever will happen is of no concern to this project.

Cohn editorializes:

If the purpose and need of the Atlantic Yards project is that it will be so great for the region, so great that we should ignore the local neighborhood whining about density and such, why is there no transportation plan associated with it? While we’re rediscovering Robert Moses, let’s recognize what it was about big plans that helped the development of the region: Robert Moses realized that transportation was key. He opposed creating a venue event that would stop-up the flow of traffic in this area. Why don’t we have a real intermodal project that orchestrates the trains, bus facilities, taxi stands and bicycles and yes, a possible rail link from Lower Manhattan to Long Island and JFK? Isn’t there an opportunity to locate a state-of-the-art station here? Instead we have a plan to locate a plug of 3800 cars in an existing bottleneck.

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