For nearly a century, the Regional Plan Association has helped shape the New York City-New Jersey-Connecticut metro region. And for just the fourth time in its history, the organization on Thursday is releasing a long-term vision for the area’s future regarding affordability, resilience and infrastructure amid technological advancements and climate change.
Previous plans, released in 1929, 1968 and 1996, helped guide everything from the location of the George Washington Bridge, which was originally planned for midtown, to the development of Hudson Yards and waterfront revitalization.
“Instead of just looking at the question of how do we grow, RPA really looked at what kind of region would we want to be 25 years from now and what values do we hold as an organization do we want to hold as a region,” said Dani Simons, vice president of strategic communication.
To create the five-years-in-the-making study, RPA worked with academic, experts, residents and civic, private and public sector groups to devise 61 recommendations that range from restructuring the MTA and Port Authority, expanding and modernizing transit, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and solving the housing crisis.
“A lot of the stuff we pushed for (in 1996) we did start getting momentum on over the decades, but not to the extent that we needed,” said Rich Barone, vice president of transportation, citing the ongoing East Side Access work and eventual opening of the Second Avenue subway.
Among the RPA’s new suggestions for everyone’s favorite thorn, mass transit, are:
• having the MTA create a subway reconstruction authority to focus on overhauling and modernizing within 15 years
• charging drivers coming into Manhattan’s central business district and tolling major roadways
• expanding regional rail, including on deactivated and freight-only lines
• building a second bus terminal in the basement of the Javits Center
• opening up 80 percent of urban street space for walking, biking and transit by 2040
• having the Gateway Project connect into Queens and Long Island
• changing subways from 24/7 to 24/3 as overnight weekend ridership has risen, with suggested shutdowns between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., to allow for daily maintenance on tracks and in stations
This is the first in an ongoing Metro series about the RPA’s “Fourth Regional Plan.” For more info, visit fourthplan.org.