Brooklyn Boro

Letter to the editor January 28

History doesn't provide optimism for proposed $10 billion "Cross Harbor" rail freight tunnel project

January 28, 2021
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Dear Editor,

Did you know that the 4th Avenue subway in Brooklyn was extended one stop from 77th Street to a new station in Bay Ridge at 86th Street & 4th Avenue on January 15, 1916? During this time, there was consideration to provide a future connection to Staten Island.

Who remembers the long forgotten proposed tunnel between 69th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and St. George, Staten Island? The concept was to extend subway service from the Brooklyn BMT line to Staten Island. The ground was broken with entrances at both ends in the 1920s, but the project quickly ran out of money and was abandoned to history. When living on Shore Road in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, friends and I would look to no avail in attempting to find the abandoned site filled in decades later.

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The 56th Anniversary of the opening of the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge on November 20, 1964, reminded me of other transportation histories. In the 1950s, the design of the bridge did not include a pedestrian walkway, bicycle path, or connection to the existing Fourth Avenue Bay Ridge subway. The opening of the bridge in 1964 resulted in the subsequent demise of the 69th Street Brooklyn-St. George Ferry.

Today we have the proposed $10 billion “Cross Harbor” rail freight tunnel project. This project is sponsored by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and championed by Congress member Jerry Nadler as his number one transportation priority. After thirty years of lobbying by Nadler, the project has yet to even complete the federal National Environmental Review Process. Don’t be surprised if it is doomed to become a relic of history.

– Larry Penner (transportation advocate, historian, and writer)

 

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