Ms. Amanda M. Burden
New York City Department of City Planning
22 Reade Street
New York, NY 10007-1216
Mr. Christopher Ward
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
225 Park Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10013
Dear Director Burden and Executive Director Ward:
As the State Senator representing New York’s 29th District, which includes the neighborhoods of Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen and part of Midtown, I write to express my full support for the planned construction of a new storage facility ("Bus Garage") for buses using the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority Bus Terminal ("Bus Terminal"), and to offer my suggestions regarding how this planned facility may best meet its goals.
I was heartened to read in The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's ("Port Authority") 2008 Budget and Updated 2007-2018 Capital Investment Plan that "approximately $545 million will be spent on a new bus storage facility that will provide buses with a place to stage, keeping them off busy city streets." Not only has such a Bus Garage long been sought by the local community, but the need for such a facility was also identified in the Hudson Yards Rezoning's Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement, and is considered by many a prerequisite for the implementation of the much-desired capacity expansion of the exclusive bus lane in the Lincoln Tunnel.
As you know, the traffic congestion and attendant health, pedestrian safety, and quality of life problems in Northern Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen are severe. Indeed, the Port Authority acknowledged when it approved the Bus Garage project that a large portion of the traffic congestion stems from buses entering or exiting the Lincoln Tunnel, or biding time waiting to pick up passengers at the Bus Terminal. By providing buses a place to park, the Port Authority will not only help decrease traffic congestion and air pollution in the neighborhood, but will also provide bus drivers a much needed place to rest, eat and use the restroom.
For these reasons, I urge the Port Authority, the New York City Department of City Planning and the other involved parties to act as quickly as possible to build the bus garage that the residents and visitors to Clinton/Hell's Kitchen desperately need, and that the drivers deserve. However, I implore you not to limit this garage solely to the commuter buses that use the Bus Terminal. Charter buses delivering visitors to Broadway shows and other tourist attractions, as well as commuter buses and vans which do not use the Bus Terminal, are as much, if not more, a part of the traffic congestion problem as those buses which use the Bus Terminal. Not only do these vehicles choke our streets when entering or exiting the Lincoln Tunnel, waiting to pick up passengers, or idling with their engines on to keep their heat or air conditioning running, but their need to find a place to load and unload passengers causes additional adverse impacts. Often, such loading and unloading takes place on the residential side streets of our neighborhood, taking up scarce street parking and filling our air with exhaust.
Last October, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation ("LMDC") announced that it would be converting a garage on West Street owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from private parking to parking for both commuter and charter buses. There is also a government-aided bus parking facility for both commuter and charter buses planned for construction within the Port Authority's World Trade Center redevelopment site. I hope that the precedent that LMDC is setting in Lower Manhattan will be continued in Clinton/Hell's Kitchen and that the strongest efforts will be made to ensure a place for both commuter and charter buses and vans.
I also wish to address the study of likely Bus Garage locations that I understand that the Port Authority is currently conducting. There are two criteria of utmost importance to the well-being of our neighborhood that I hope will be given great weight during this examination. First, the Bus Garage’s capacity needs to be as large as possible so that it is able to house not only all the Bus Terminal buses, including projected increases, but also the aforementioned charter buses and vans. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do the right thing for this neighborhood, the economy, and the drivers and passengers of these buses, and I feel strongly that every effort must be made to include charter buses and vans in the proposed Bus Garage.
Second, for those buses that will use the Bus Garage as a layover before they pick up passengers at the Bus Terminal, it is imperative that they be able to travel between the Bus Garage and the Bus Terminal without utilizing city streets. Locating the Bus Garage at a facility that would provide direct access to the Bus Terminal would greatly reduce truck traffic on the street. Additionally, such an arrangement would allow for a more efficient loading and unloading procedure at the Bus Terminal, thereby increasing the number of buses that can use the facility and promoting mass transit. My understanding, and in this I am in agreement with Manhattan Community Board Four, is that a garage over Galvin Plaza would be best suited to fulfill these two considerations, due to its proximity to the Bus Terminal and its ability to host a large facility.
As the Port Authority, City Planning and all the involved parties continue their efforts to bring this project to fruition, I appreciate your consideration of these suggestions and would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you might have. I look forward to working with you in the future on this and other issues and projects affecting the 29th Senate district.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate
29th Senate District