Cuomo highlights 2021 agenda, unveils investment to build NY

Cuomo highlights 2021 agenda, unveils investment to  build NY


Moses Kuwema

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday delivered his 2021 State of the State address in which he highlighted his 2021 agenda which features a suite of initiatives to not only begin reopening New York as the state continues its work to defeat the COVID-19 virus, but also investing billions into infrastructure improvements to build a new New York. 

As part of these efforts, Governor Cuomo has put forth a number of proposals focused on transforming Manhattan's Midtown West neighborhood, including building a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, rebuilding the state's airports, and improving transportation infrastructure to create jobs, spur economic development and bring existing infrastructure into the 21st century. 

Earlier this week, the Governor announced proposals to win the war against COVID-19, by addressing New York's short-term economic issues, ensure social and racial justice, and reopen the state while growing the green economy. 

"I sit in the office and live in the home occupied at one time by FDR. Part of Roosevelt's genius was that he understood that it was not the buildings and programs themselves that actually turned around the economy, it was the people," Governor Cuomo said. 

"Building new projects enhances day-to-day life. Seeing progress lifts peoples' spirits. And building with bricks and mortar also builds public optimism and confidence," he added. 

Governor Cuomo continued, "History teaches us that when the private economy is lagging the public sector can spur activity. That when unemployment is high, the public sector can create jobs. 

"That only the public sector can build the common economic platform for growth. Across the state, we're now building bigger and better, and laying the foundation for our future. 

"Not even COVID stopped us. We used the period of reduced traffic to accelerate projects throughout the state. Altogether we are expanding our infrastructure plan to invest $306 billion in the future of New York.

"That's not just the largest infrastructure plan in New York history. It's the largest, most ambitious plan put forward by any state in the nation."

On the Midtown West Redevelopment in New York City, Governor Cuomo said New York State had long led some of New York City's most successful and transformational macro-development projects, from Battery Park City to Roosevelt Island, to the transformation of Times Square. 

This year, the Governor has already announced the opening of the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall, New York's most ambitious transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades, and plans to extend the High Line to Moynihan Train Hall. 

In 2021, New York State will build on that progress to complete the buildout and connectivity of Midtown West with a bold transit-oriented development plan. 

The $51 billion plan will create 196,000 jobs, new outdoor spaces, affordable housing, improved public transit and pedestrian connections, and bring commercial and affordable housing opportunities to the burgeoning Manhattan neighborhood. 

The multi-faceted plan includes: Replacing The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with a new state-of-the-art facility to better serve the over a quarter million daily passengers. 

The project will not only reduce congestion on city streets and improve air quality but will transform mass transit to and from the West Side of Manhattan. 

With the completion of the Moynihan Train Hall, which opened to the public on January 1, 2021, the State will turn its attention to the existing Penn Station, just across the street. 

The State will start on a comprehensive $16 billion project to reconstruct the existing station and add track capacity. 

"By acquiring property south of Penn Station, we can expand the complex to 40 percent more train capacity and at least eight additional underground tracks to cut down on delays and improve operations for the more than 600,000 passengers it serves daily," Governor Cuomo said. 

"The signature transportation project will create nearly 60,000 direct jobs, and New York State stands ready to work with New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and the federal government to share in this historic investment for the future of the region. The transformation of Penn Station also anticipates the Gateway Project, including two tunnels to bring more trains across the Hudson from the west and the renovation of the two existing tunnels, for a total of four train tunnels from New Jersey and beyond," he stated. 
 
Governor Cuomo said with the new transportation complex as a cornerstone, the Midtown West development would also include new housing and commercial development opportunities in the area. 

He said in total, the area spanning from Broadway to the Hudson will include up to 14 buildings that will yield more than 20 million square feet of retail, commercial, and residential development and provide up to 1,400 much-needed units of affordable housing in a transit, job, and amenity-rich community.

Governor Cuomo said the State will transform Pier 76 from an NYPD car tow pound to a 5.6-acre expansion of Hudson River Park. 

"In the short term, it can become a magnificent public space that allows visitor access to the waterfront while the Hudson River Park Trust develops plans for the Pier's long-term future," he said. 

Governor Cuomo said the 1.2 million-square-foot, $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Center will be completed in 2021, increasing capacity of the nation's busiest convention center by 50 percent. 

He said the expansion will include a rooftop pavilion and outdoor terrace for 1,500 people; a one-acre rooftop farm; a 54,000-square foot special event space with Hudson River views; 90,000 square feet of new exhibition space that will create 500,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition space; and a truck marshaling facility to reduce congestion and pollution. 

Governor Cuomo said New York will continue the historic $8 billion transformation of LaGuardia Airport saying upon receipt of a positive record of decision from the federal government, New York State will continue work on the $2 billion AirTrain LaGuardia. 

He said in addition, the vast majority of the roadway network will be completed this year and marks significant progress on Delta's new state-of-the-art terminal and concourses on the east side of the airport. 

"When complete, the new LaGuardia will be the first new major airport built in the United States since 1995. The new LaGuardia will serve more than 30 million passengers per year and will have created 14,000 jobs," Governor Cuomo said. 

On JFK Airport, Governor Cuomo said New York State will continue the $13 billion plan to transform JFK into a modern airport built for the 21st century. 

He said when complete, the brand new JFK will safely and efficiently serve more than 75 million passengers per year adding that the project is also slated to create nearly 30,000 jobs.

Governor Cuomo said as part of the JFK Airport transformation, the State is modernizing the Kew Gardens Interchange, which serves more than 200,000 vehicles daily and that the final phase of this $700 million project will be complete in 2022.
 
And in building on a $200 million investment through the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, the Governor will commit an additional $100 million in round two funding for continued renewal and modernization. 

He said funding will include enhanced securityscreening, expanded and rehabilitated terminals, stateofthe-art boarding concourses and concession areas, and innovations in contactless technology. 

"Altogether we are expanding our infrastructure plan to invest $306 billion in the future of New York. That's not just the largest infrastructure plan in New York history. It's the largest, most ambitious plan put forward by any state in the nation," he said.

On improving Mass Transit for Millions of New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo said once the MTA resolves funding uncertainty caused by COVID-19, it will implement its historic $51.5 billion 2020-2024 Capital Plan and will include repair projects, signal modernization, and ADA accessibility projects progressing in 2021. 

"Other projects supported include upgraded stations, thousands of new buses and train cars, and critical maintenance and upgrades for bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure," Cuomo said. 

"In addition, with necessary multi-year federal support, MTA will further extend the Second Avenue Subway, from 96th Street to 125th Street."

He stated further that the Long Island Rail Road's historic and transformative third track project will complete a new third track along a critical 9.8-mile section of LIRR's Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville to increase track capacity, improve reliability, and significantly enhance service for LIRR customers. 

He said the $2.6 billion project also includes the construction of additional parking garages, the renovation of stations, new and renovated bridges, and modern track and signal infrastructure. 

Governor Cuomo said by the end of 2021, MTA will have completed all eight of the grade crossing eliminations on the mainline, six of which will have new vehicular underpasses. 

On the updates to Highways, Roads and Bridges, Governor Cuomo said New York State will invest $1.7 billion to create direct access to and from the Bruckner Expressway and Sheridan Boulevard for trucks serving the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. 

He said the highway redesign will take traffic off local roadways, significantly reducing both noise and air pollution in a borough with high asthma rates. 
Governor Cuomo said the entire project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2025. 

In 2021, Governor Cuomo said the State will complete a $150 million project to ease access and improve traffic flow along Route 31, Route 390, and the Interstate 390/490 Interchange in Monroe County. 

He said the interchange will serve as a vital connection for nearly 200,000 motorists daily. 

"The State will continue work on the Newburgh Beacon Bridge to complete a full deck replacement on the north span of the bridge over the Hudson River. Re-decking will improve roadway safety, drivability, and durability," Governor Cuomo said. 

"This $95 million investment will be complete in 2022, nine months ahead of schedule."

Governor Cuomo said the State will conduct an environmental and public review of its proposal to replace the Interstate 81 viaduct in Syracuse. 

He said the $1.9 billion project will connect communities and create opportunities for new residential and commercial development and that it is expected to break ground in 2022. 

Governor Cuomo also announced progress on a number of major infrastructure updates across New York State that invest in communities to open new public spaces, attract tourism, and create jobs. 

Governor Cuomo initiated a large-scale planning and design effort to maximize waterfront access and free up to 45 acres for development through the removal of the Skyway Bridge in downtown Buffalo and transform it into a spectacular park. 

He said New York State will complete the environmental review process this year and, with federal approval, will be ready to break ground this year. 

Governor Cuomo said through an $11.4 million partnership with the City of Albany, the State is converting an underutilized interstate exit ramp into an iconic linear park with a landscaped promenade, event spaces, and an accessible shared-use path connecting downtown Albany with the Arbor Hill and Sheridan Hollow neighborhoods, Albany's warehouse district, and the Corning Riverfront Park and that construction will be completed this year.

In 2021, Binghamton University will complete construction of its transformational, $287 million, 13-acre Health Sciences Campus in downtown Johnson City. 

Governor Cuomo said this will include the 108,000 square-foot Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which will welcome hundreds of students this Spring; a new 105,000 square-foot school of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences with more than 350 faculty, staff, and students; a new eldercare teaching clinic in partnership with Lourdes Hospital; and a pharmacological R&D facility. 

He said overall this project will have created more than 225 new jobs and involved more than 200 construction jobs. 
Governor Cuomo said this year, work will continue on Mohawk Valley Health System's $548 million new state-of-the-art hospital in downtown Utica. 

He said the 672,000-square-foot, nine-story, 373-bed facility is projected to be completed by 2023. 

"The Belmont Park Redevelopment is replacing 43 acres of underutilized parking lots with a 19,000-seat arena that will bring the New York Islanders hockey team back home to Long Island. The arena includes a world-class retail village, and a new hotel," Governor Cuomo said.

"New York Arena Partners is leading the 350,000-square-foot development, bringing $1.3 billion in private investment to the 115-year-old horse-racing facility. The project also includes the renovation of two nearby community parks, new community space, and the first new LIRR train station in 40 years. Construction is well underway, with completion of the arena slated for the 2021-2022 NHL season; east-bound LIRR service to open in fall 2021. In total, this project will create more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout construction and once completed."  

Governor Cuomo said the State has been working with Nassau County on the $439 million Bay Park Conveyance Project to reduce nitrogen pollution by more than 50 percent and to connect the plant to an existing ocean outfall. 

He said the $1.2 billion-plus investment will result in dramatic improvements in the water quality while stemming the rapid degradation of the marsh islands that provide a natural barrier for flood protection for southern Nassau County. 

Governor Cuomo said the Riverway Rochester redevelopment project, supported by a $50 million New York State investment, will achieve several key milestones in 2021 with more than half its projects reaching completion, including the expansion of the Blue Cross Arena Exchange Expansion and the West River floodwall projects, as well as the continued construction of the major overhaul to Charles Carrol Park.  

He said the 150-acre LEGOLAND theme park in Orange County will open this year adding that the $420 million investment will draw tourists back to New York after the pandemic and create approximately 1,000 jobs.  

Governor Cuomo said the Whiteface Mountain rebuilt a $14 million mid-station lodge following a devastating fire in 2019 and that the new lodge is open for the 2020-21 ski season with limited services and will be completed this year.