Iconic bridges, roads receiving stimulus money
In a modern-day New Deal for some of the city's most cherished landmarks, the federal government is injecting $261 million in stimulus money to fix dozens of bridges, transit hubs and roads - from the Brooklyn Bridge to the ferry terminal on Staten Island.
The city is pooling the transportation-related cash to launch $1.1 billion worth of projects, creating a potentially dizzying amount of construction all at once.
Officials estimated Monday that the windfall will create or preserve 32,000 jobs clustered in the construction trades.
It doesn't eliminate the pain, but it means things will be a little less bad, said Sen. Charles Schumer, during an announcement Monday near the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, which will be resurfaced and weatherproofed.The work was designed and approved in the city's capital plan, but would have been shelved because of belt-tightening.
There are no ridiculous projects in there, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. These were projects we were going to do with our own money.
The big winner is the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, which stands to receive $175 million to renovate bumpy ramps and decks suffering from a pigeon infestation. The Brooklyn Bridge - one of two city overpasses not in a complete state of good repair - will also benefit with a paint job and ramp renovations.
The list includes two dozen smaller neighborhood redevelopment projects, and $4 million to repair sidewalks uprooted by street trees.
The MTA will receive $1 billion in stimulus funds for mass transportation projects that have yet to be announced. New York received one of the largest chunks of stimulus funding for transportation because it had so many shovel-ready projects, Schumer said.
To shed light on the spending, the city launched a Web site, NYCStat Stimulus Tracker, to monitor the use of the money.
Conducting so much simultaneous work could cause headaches for drivers, but more worrisome is its potential to inflate construction prices, said Anthony Shorris, director of the NYU Wagner Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.
You need to be careful with the marketplace, Shorris said. If the prices go up, there's less work for the dollars.
About three dozen transportation-related projects in the city will be funded with $261 million in federal stimulus money. The projects that will get the largest chunks of money are:
- St. George Ferry Terminal - $175 million to repair ramps carrying 60,000 passengers a day
- Brooklyn Bridge - $47 million for a full paint job and to rehabilitate and widen dilapidated ramps
- Queens Plaza - $37 million to create a public plaza and new streetscape
- East Houston Street - $24 million to reconstruct the road, build bike lanes and widen the sidewalk
- Rockaway Boardwalk - $15 million to reconstruct crumbling portions