As Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration gingerly dips a toe back into a possible rezoning of Midtown East, a separate proposal to overhaul the area’s East 53rd Street/Lexington Avenue subway station threatens to kick off yet another “capital-scheme boondoggle,” according to the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo.
MTA chief Thomas Prendergast recently told Crain’s that he wants to redesign the station, a project that would ideally get rolling before the area sprouts any new buildings amid an anticipated rezoning. A revamped station would therefore be better able to deal with the influx of new workers that rezoning would bring, he has said.
“But, what new workers? Except for on a few blocks of Vanderbilt Avenue, the city’s campaign to rezone the East 40s and 50s is so lacking in conviction and urgency, it might be decades before anything changes,” opined Cuozzo in a recent column.
An attempt to upgrade subway stations in the Grand Central area need only look to the late and millions over budget East Side Access plan to bring the Long Island Railroad into the terminal, Cuozzo wrote. Once predicted to open in 2009, the station now is projected to finish in 2023. And the cost has ballooned from $4 billion to over $10 billion.
“Once a capital-project horror show begins, there’s no stopping it at any cost — as at the MTA’s still-unfinished Fulton Transit Center, which needed a half-billion-dollar federal bailout,” Cuozzo wrote.
Though such transit upgrades could be partly paid for by developers the city charges for public amenities attached to their new buildings, that money could take years to show up, if indeed it ever does, according to Cuozzo.
“At this rate, the MTA won’t have to spend a dime to relieve the congestion,” wrote Cuozzo. “The job will be done by even more companies bolting from what was once the world’s largest business district.” [NYP] — Julie Strickland