Daniel Convissor's Website

Manhattan's West Side

Westway, Route 9A and the Hudson River Park

What to do with Manhattan's Westside has been a source of contention for many years. The current controversies stem from Westway, a huge interstate highway to be buried underground with a park on top. Part of the project would have built a huge spaghetti of on/off ramps at major cross streets. The right of way for this was acquired before the project was, thankfully, stopped by legal action. Significant portions of the right of way are in what is now the river.

The question now is what to do with the right of way. The portions on land will be used for rebuilding West Street / 12 Av, at a cost of $350 million, and installing parkland. It would be better to use the highway money for improving the transit system. The existing roadway works just fine. Some drainage work can be done, but completely rebuilding it is a waste of funds. The proposed reconstruction will even widen the road in some places, a big mistake.

The parts of the right of way which are now in the river is another source of contention. What to do with the piers. As it is going now, there will be some development on the piers and some parkland. Building on these piers is not a great idea.

This part of town is out of the way and not near transit, plus will be built with loads of car parking, thus will attract loads of car trips. Look at how many cars are used to access the World Financial Center... bad news. These problems can be mitigated by having narrow streets (unlike the tremendously wide ones in the World Financial Center) little parking and new transit serving the locations.

There are other parts of town that need investment. We should be building there, not making new land.

Building on these piers will diminish public access to open space. Parks are sorely lacking in NYC.

The right of way is now in the hands of the state Department of Transportation. The purchase of the right of way was funded mainly by the national government for the interstate highway, plus the required city and state local matching funds. Since the right of way is not going to be used for the interstate, the state must use the right way for public open space or transportation uses. If it decides to develop the lands, the state must pay back the national government. This payback is a bone of contention now in the city and state budgeting process. The state/city want to pay back part of the funds so they can develop the land/piers.

This was written by Daniel Convissor as a posting to ny.politics on 1 June 1994


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Last updated: 4 April 1999