Photo Courtesy of New York Times

Photo Courtesy of New York Times

Leave it to citizen advocates to be at the forefront of progressive city planning. A citizen advocacy group in New York City called Vision 42 is proposing to close 42 street to cars and construct an east/west light rail line, connecting one side of Manhattan with the other.

Vision 42 would like to turn the full length of 42nd Street into a pedestrian mall, while adding a light rail line that would connect the 39th Street ferry terminal on the Hudson River, near the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on the West Side Highway, with the 36th Street ferry terminal on the East River, near the undeveloped Con Edison sites on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.

The light rail system, which would cost an estimated $500 million, would run from terminal to terminal in about 20 minutes, half the time that the current bus system takes.

Sounds good to me. Why aren’t we doing to $200 million streetcar again? Seems that in New York, real estate developers are catching on to the idea that walkablility increases value.

“Real estate people should take a look at what’s happened with real estate values in other cities where there are these walking streets,” said Mr. Durst, who visits pedestrian-friendly Copenhagen frequently, as his wife is Danish. “They’ve increased tremendously.”

Vision 42 advocates said light rail lines in Dallas had stimulated more than $1 billion worth of development. In Portland, Ore., light rail has catalyzed about $1.2 billion worth of development. In Jersey City, about 33.3 million square feet of development is under way, Mr. Haikalis said.

An economic study commissioned by Vision 42 with grant money and done by the consulting firm Urbanomics of New York, projected that about 398 office properties along 42nd Street would have an average increase in lot value of $188 a square foot because of the time saved with a light rail line, a combined increase in value of 4 percent. Jeffrey Gural, the chairman of Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate company that manages office buildings along 42nd Street, said it would make sense to connect the Javits Center to the United Nations, which currently has no subway stop.

According to Urbanomics’ study, completely closing 42nd Street to cars and adding light rail would increase the pedestrian volume by about 35 percent, producing a proportional annual increase in sales of about $380 million for the street’s 126 retail outlets, Mr. Haikalis said.

It’s what I keep on saying: plan for the type of city you want. If you plan for pedestrians and transit, that is who will inhabit the city. If you plan for cars, well, we all know what happens when you plan for cars.

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2 Responses to What New York Can Teach Miami: Vision 42

  1. Its such a simple way of increasing the productive use of our roadways. Aside from the obvious cries from the automotive public, I don’t know why utilizing existing street ROW isn’t explored in more detail for a larger contingent of projects.

    Just think about how the Metrorail extension north (along 27th Avenue) could become just that more viable if we’d stop chasing the elevated option. If we have a space (a street), and its underutilized (from an energy and efficiency viewpoint), why not try and maximize the use of that land as well?

    Frankly, I believe the 2nd Avenue subway (NYC) should have explored an above ground alternative - the $14 Billion price tag is largely a result of the difficulty of tunneling around existing infrastructure…


  2. John says:

    great forward thinking! way to go ny!


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