Friday, October 11, 2013

Proposed Roosevelt Island Tram Route Extension To Long Island City And Central Park From Forum For Urban Design Next New York - What Do You Think?

At the Forum For Urban Design Next New York held last spring, architects Claire Weisz, Mark Yoes and Jacob Dugopolski of WXY Architecture +Urban Design proposed:
Imagine new uninterrupted connections across the river, linking major destinations across the five boroughs.

First, we could extend the Roosevelt Island tram in both directions, creating a new link from Queens Plaza to Central Park. The tram could be a high-visibility attraction, steering tourists from Central Park to the museums and galleries of Long Island City. And it would serve commuters as an above-grade transit option with a fantastic view that links Queens Plaza with Midtown Manhattan or the new Roosevelt Island campus and innovation hub.

The East River Ferry could also be expanded to bridge neighborhoods directly across the river from one another. Paired with new bikeways and express bus routes along the waterfront, the ferry would offer a quicker transportation alternative to existing multi-stop bus and subway routes. The ferry should create new access points at Roosevelt Island; Pier 35, Houston Street, and Stuyvesant Cove in Manhattan; and Jay Street and the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn...

Curbed NY reports:
... It would be transit with a view, plus make getting to Cornell's new tech campus on Roosevelt Island easier from both boroughs....
Except, according to an article from yesterday's NY Daily News:
... there’s no money in anyone’s budget to actually build the sky-high link...
and a Roosevelt Island Tram rider adds:
... "It would be inconvenient, because there would be too much traffic,” said Rashida Selim, 62. “The tram cars are very small, and they are already crowded during rush hour.”...
So what do you think? Do you like the idea? I like the idea of a Tram extension to Long Island City but not to Central Park. The tourist traffic from Central Park would be overwhelming.

Here's more Urban Design Forum Next New York interesting ideas.


Remachinate said...

You'd think that investment in RI's transportation infrastructure would be more focused on alleviating the severe congestion rather than adding to it.

Frank Farance said...

rilander: Actually, the best subway expansion would be a stop on the 60 Street tunnel, right next to the tram, with transfer to the tram and 63 Street subway. I've said many times, creating some transportation center that had benefit to people OFF of Roosevelt Island (regional benefit) would make the infrastructure funding easier since we wouldn't have to pay for it ourselves (for a service that would only benefit us).

The 53 St subway lines are too congested (both people and trains), and who wants to take a red bus to a stop that's inside Southpoint Park ... doesn't make commuting better for us (maybe for Cornell tho).

As for ferry service, looking forward to Cornell, we need better connections to LIC/Queens-West (which would reduce traffic on Main Street).

As for the tram extension, if we have the 60 Street subway stop, we then have the connection to Queensboro Plaza, the connection at Lex Av, and the connection at 60 St/5 Av (Central Park) ... and we don't have all the people getting on/off the Island or further crowding the tram.

I think that tram extension was taken from a dream many years ago ... hey, all us Islanders have had a dream where they've added a new tram stop someplace new, right? :-) Just like all New Yorkers have a dream that they've discovered this new "extra" room in their apartment that they never noticed before.

So, in sum, I'd rather have 60 St subway stop + a ferry stop (at the oil dock) to LIC/Queens-West.

CheshireKitty said...

Since there aren't that many jobs in LIC (or at least not as many as in Manhattan) although there may be once the expected spillover job incubation effect from Cornell occurs, then the tram extension to Queens probably makes no sense. All the links are radial generally leading to business mostly in Lower Manhattan and Midtown. Some in that immediate Queens Plaza area might use the tram to go to Manhattan, but I can't see riders getting off trains at Queens Plaza to ride the tram into the City.

Also, I agree with Rashida - the tram care are very small, and the additional tourist traffic from Central Park would make the already often crowded cars (not just at rush hour) more so.

The idea of another subway stop @ 2nd Ave & 60th St is nice - it could also be a transfer point to the 2nd Ave subway. But, since the Lex/Bwy lines are already only a block away, I wonder if it'll ever happen. Certainly the 2nd Ave subway should stop there however, and there could also be a transfer from that train to the Lex /Bwy lines at 59th (similar to the walkway at 42nd St linking the 6th Ave line to the Flushing line). But I wonder if they'll ever do that because of the expense - perhaps they'll figure riders can just walk the block to the other lines.

Re: Subway walkways. Does anyone know if the walkway from Herald Sq to Penn Sta was ever re-opened?

YetAnotherDisgustedResident said...

Micah Kellner once gave me an esimate of 2 BILLION !! dollars for any new subway station. This was based on the 2nd avenue subway total cost of 16 billion (now 17B) where half of the cost is concentrated in the 4 air conditioned stations.

Clearly, no one is going to come up with even a fraction of that amount for the sole benefit of RI commuters.

Westviewer said...

This is pure fantasy, of course.

Frank Farance said...

Yet: I think I was around when Assemblymember Kellner got that number. It was circa 2008-2009 when we were looking at the tram shutdown, talking about other options (short and long term) and we were talking with a woman at the MTA (don't remember her name, she was a key information person at the MTA). The initial number was a couple hundred million dollars, then the next time we discussed it it had grown to $700-800M, and then someone said "we don't really have a good estimate", so it became "over a billion dollars". And like all rumor-ish things, just grew in size without any reality check or substantiation. The limit to growth of the rumor is the Second Avenue subway, so hollowing out a station can't be more expensive than the Second Avenue subway ... thus, we arrive at Kellner's $2B.

I've tried to get "hardened" numbers or better estimates, but I have not been successful.

In my much much younger days (circa 1982), I was very poor, I'd work late, and if I missed the last tram (2 AM), the options were cab (couldn't afford the $4), or walk over bridge to LIC, Queensbridge / Ravenswood (much worse in the 1980's). So after the train departed (in the wee hours trains ran every 30-40 minutes then), I tried walking the subway tunnel from Lex and 60 St to the Island and I'd climb up the ventilation shaft right next to the tram. Aside from being filthy, it's really dangerous and I stopped doing it after a Near Miss. But I remember that a station could be built at the base of the ventilation shaft, sorta like the way the RI F-train station is built (a shaft that goes down to the platform level).

As for the cost, you're right that no one will pay that if it just benefits Roosevelt Island. However, I suggested a transportation hub that would have regional benefit: the same complex would connect (via direct transfers) the 63 St service, the 60 St service, the tram, and possibly a ferry. It would operate like other kinds of small hubs (think Roos Av in Jackson Heights, which connects the IND, IRT, and bus lines). And with regional benefit, there might be local, regional, state, and federal funds to support it ... like a mini-Hoboken.

In summary, with regional benefit it is easier to fund. Make it only for Roos Isl, and we're stuck paying for it ourselves.

Oh one more thing: after the Near Miss, if I missed the last tram, I chose to sleep on the steps of the tram until it started at 6 AM. :-)