Expansion Plans

Port Authority and Union Square to get facelifts

| 25 Jan 2021 | 10:39

NYC is set to embark on two major expansion projects that will transform transportation and create more open space in Lower Manhattan.

As part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $306 billion infrastructure plan to revitalize New York, the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be replaced. The plan provides for a nearly 40 percent increase in transit rider capacity and the new terminal will be designed to serve 100 percent electric bus fleets.

Additionally, plans were revealed last week to overhaul the Union Square-14th Street area into New York City’s most accessible space.

In September 2019 a town hall was held where residents complained that the nation’s largest bus terminal causes terrible traffic congestion and poor air quality in Midtown Manhattan and needs to be improved or moved. Well, it looks like the state has heeded their requests.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told Our Town she loves the plan, and the main concern of the community is getting the empty buses off the street.

“We need a new bus station,” Brewer said. “Once you have a plan like this you want to make sure that everything that’s promised happens. The Port Authority deserves a lot of credit. We’ve also been working with the people in New Jersey and they’re pleased.”

The new plan for the new Midtown Bus Terminal includes:

* The complete replacement of the existing terminal building on 8th Avenue for commuter bus services with a state of the art facility.

* A bus storage and staging building between 9th and 10th Avenues that removes buses from congested city streets.

* The storage and staging building also will include additional capacity to handle intercity buses that currently load and unload on city streets, reducing congestion and foot traffic from local streets.

* New bus ramp infrastructure between 10th and 11th Avenues enabling direct bus access from the Lincoln Tunnel to both the new staging and storage building and to the new terminal.

* Approximately three and a half additional acres of new green space in the community between 9th and 10th Avenues created by decking over sections of the Dyer Avenue entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. Those areas will serve as temporary staging locations during early phases of construction and will be transformed for public green space at the completion of the construction project.

* Up to four high-rise towers: one on 8th Avenue between 41st Street and 42nd Street; one on 9th Avenue between 40th Street and 41st Street; one on 11th Avenue between 39th Street and 40th Street; and one on 10th Avenue between 39th Street and 40th Street.

The existing terminal was built in 1950 and expanded in 1981. It now serves an estimated 260,000 passenger trips on weekdays, or 23 percent of trans-Hudson trips entering or exiting Manhattan’s central business district, and 8,000 bus movements. Demand is expected to increase by 30 percent, with up to 337,000 weekday passenger trips by 2040.

Union Square

On Jan. 19, The Union Square Partnership announced the release of the Union Square-14th Street District Vision Plan, a $100 million proposal for the future of the Union Square-14th Street neighborhood that will result in a 33 percent increase in public space.

The proposal would create new parklets, trees, planters, extend sidewalks, enlarge the subway entrance at 16th Street with an escalator and elevator and build a new pathway through Triangle Plaza.

Designed in collaboration with Marvel, the Vision Plan is the culmination of a two-year-long process working with community members, local business leaders, urban designers, landscape architects, transportation experts and city and state agency partners. With over 1,000 individuals engaged at 20 separate engagement events, it was the largest outreach effort in the Partnership’s 45-year history.

Elements of the plan include:

· Transform 14th Street into a world-class boulevard and permanent crosstown transitway

· Streetscape elements including new trees, lighting, trash containers, and pedestrian-friendly “micro parks”

· Enhanced Broadway plaza at 17th Street, the gateway to Union Square and the terminus of the 2.5-mile pedestrian corridor stretching down from Columbus Circle

· Park master plan to address infrastructure such as landscaping and utilities, ADA accessibility, permanent farmer’s market stalls and new subway entrance.

Brewer is also a staunch supporter of this renovation. As a thriving area pre-pandemic, the BP feels this will have a drastic impact citywide and on tourism.

She noted this will get more pedestrians to come to the area, which in turn will create more consumers and help the now struggling restaurants.

“I’m very supportive,” she said. “I think it needed to be done. It’s just an exciting plan. It really jumps in terms of neighborhood activities and greenery. It’s very lovely and creative. It’s got something for everybody.”

“We need a new bus station. Once you have a plan like this you want to make sure that everything that’s promised happens.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer