According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his proposed infrastructure projects are ambitious enough to “make Gov. Rockefeller jealous.”
The source of the late governor’s envy? Cuomo’s proposed “Built to Lead” program, an initiative that includes statewide infrastructure investments of $100 billion. The governor officially unveiled the proposal Wednesday during his 2016 State of the State address, touching upon the overhaul of Penn Station and the Javits Center and the revised proposal to add a “third track” to the Long Island Railroad.
Cuomo described Penn Station as “miserable” and “un-New York,” and recycled a joke about Vice President Joe Biden not getting the chance to compare the station to a third world country.
“The tallest buildings, the longest bridges, the deepest tunnels — they never said quit. Now it’s our turn, my friends,” he said. “We must provide the daring and vision for the next generation.”
During his speech, Cuomo also announced a $20 billion plan that will create 100,000 new affordable housing units in the state over the next five years and add 20,000 supportive housing units over the next 15 years.
Over the last week or so, Cuomo has announced several major projects, including the $3 billion transformation of Penn Station and the James A. Farley Post Office, known as Moynihan Station. The new project, dubbed Empire State Station, would create a new transit hall in the post office that would connect to Penn Station through a network of underground tunnels. Cuomo announced that the state is seeking new proposals for the long-delayed project, jettisoning the current developers Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust.
There’s a running theme to Cuomo’s proposals: massive overhauls of public spaces that have been talked about for decades but have, for one reason or another, failed to get off the ground. The proposed $1 billion expansion of the Javits Center, for example, builds on years of criticism that the space is too small. The long-reviled La Guardia Airport is slated to be rebuilt by 2021 at a cost of $4 billion. The Empire State Station, a project that has been in the works since the 1990s, is slated to be completed over the next three years, though it’s not clear why this plan will outpace previous iterations.