Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bloomberg Indicates Possible Support for Cross Harbor Tunnel Project

By Conor Greene

Speaking at a press conference in Brooklyn this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg indicated he might support for the Cross Harbor Tunnel project, which would bring thousands of trucks to Maspeth.

The comments, made Monday in Sunset Park alongside Rep. Jerrold Nadler, represent another change in Bloomberg’s view of the project, which would connect Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island with the national railroad freight network in New Jersey. The plan has come under considerable fire from the Juniper Park Civic Association and other local groups because of the impact the increased truck traffic would have locally.

At a JPCA meeting in 2005, Bloomberg said the project “really would destroy neighborhoods here in this area and we just can’t do that.” However, on Monday he called the tunnel “a good long-term solution” provided “we find a ways to make sure it is economically sustainable and that its damage, or its impact is a better word, on neighborhoods where you go in and out is something we manage without destroying those neighborhoods.”

Rep. Nadler, who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, has spearheaded the cross harbor tunnel plan for years. He noted that the Port Authority is currently creating an Environmental Impact Statement to gauge the impact the project would have on local areas. “There is not going to be tremendous impact on any neighborhoods because they can design it in such a way with multiple terminals and so forth so no particular neighborhood has unmitigated consequences as were feared a number of years ago.”

Still, the mayor’s comments drew sharp rebuke from local civic and elected officials who have fought against the plan in the past. “It sounds like candidate Mike Bloomberg is trying to please everyone including Congressman Jerrold Nadler whose pastime seems to be wasting taxpayer money,” said JPCA President Robert Holden. “Nadler is beholden to construction unions and railroad interests who send him on lavish vacations and give him thousands of dollars in campaign contributions while he acts as their mouthpiece.”

Holden said the JPCA is prepared to hold Mayor Bloomberg to his prior statements regarding the plan. Aside from arguing at the 2005 JPCA meeting that the tunnel would “destroy neighborhoods,” Bloomberg told the civic group, “When you get done looking at all the pros and cons, the answer is we should not build this tunnel. We would destroy homes and we just can’t do that.” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said she is against the current tunnel proposal and “any plan that would put a major truck depot in Maspeth.”

“While I understand that moving to rail is an important step to greening New York and reducing the total number of trucks on the street, the current plan calls for a truck depot to bare the full weight of influx of goods onto the Maspeth community,” continued Crowley. “If the mayor and Port Authority are going to take a serious look at this proposal they have to come up with a plan to share the burden with Brooklyn, Long Island and the other destinations for cross harbor freight. The current plan is bad for our community and only moves truck traffic from Manhattan to Queens and that is unacceptable.”

Bloomberg’s latest comments suggest the possibility that he is prepared to once again shift his position on the project, which he first supported before vowing his opposition to it at the JPCA meeting. Earlier this year, he noted that tunnels are problematic in terms of security and that the project would require “a lot of money” but added that “down the road, it’s not the world’s worst idea.”


Anonymous said...

JPCA President Robert Holden is slandering Rep. Nadler saying “...Nadler is beholden to construction unions and railroad interests who send him on lavish vacations..." I challenge Holden to prove that Rep. Nadler has accepted any vacation from any special interest lately, as that is currently illegal. And looking at Rep. Nadler's campaign contributions on, which total several million over the last few years, transportation and construction interests are a pretty small percentage relative to the total. Most campaign contributions to Nadler come from individuals. Rep. Nadler supports the tunnel because it's a good idea and our roads cannot handle the increase in truck volume over the next few years. Bloomberg has finally seen the light (pun intended) and he agrees.

Robert Holden said...

Dear Anonymous,

For a report on one of Congressman Jerrold Nadler's junkets please see...

"Even elected officials who defend the trips acknowledge the huge recreational opportunities available in places like Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Pebble Beach, Calif., two magnets for legislators.
That's where Rep. Jerrold Nadler traveled with his wife, Joyce, courtesy of the Association of American Railroads, on a pair of trips costing $5,500 and $6,600, respectively.
The West Side Democrat serves on the House railroad subcommittee, and says one reason he went was to urge trade group execs to change their position on regulatory issues.
After morning work sessions, Nadler says, members typically get the afternoons off to frolic: "You can play golf or go skiing, or horseback riding - or even alligator hunting for all I know, though I don't do those things."
At one such railroad retreat, at the Grand Teton Lodge in Wyoming, Nadler and Engel took a brief lesson in how to hit a golf ball. Famously unathletic, the men quickly abandoned the quest."

Illegal, it should be, unethical, you bet.

Robert Holden