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Link to JFK tops Pataki’s plans for lower Manhattan

Gov. George Pataki has announced plans to revitalize Lower Manhattan including direct rail service to John F. Kennedy International Airport, a La Guardia Airport ferry and a station to include N and R trains to Queens.

At the same time, surveys by the largest employers at Manhattan’s lower tip say their top priorities are a transportation hub and a high-speed rail link to JFK.

“I am announcing a plan for a 21st century transportation network that befits the nation’s third largest central business district and the financial capital of the world,” Pataki said last week.

“This will be an aggressive schedule that will serve as a catalyst for the economic rebirth of Lower Manhattan,” Pataki said. “Working with Mayor Bloomberg and our New York City partners, we will move quickly and decisively to create a transportation system that will be the envy of the world.”

The transportation plan, called Lower Manhattan Transportation Strategies, consists of four fundamental elements:

• Creating a new grand point of arrival in Lower Manhattan.

• Improving Lower Manhattan’s tangled web of subway lines.

• Providing “a respectful setting” for a memorial to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack and creating a grand promenade along West Street.

• Creating direct rail and ferry access to Long Island and airports.

Pataki’s plan includes a JFK Direct Rail Access project and a Port Authority project to begin ferry service between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy Airport by 2005.

“This will serve as an interim measure to create more direct airport access to Lower Manhattan,” the governor said. “To enhance LaGuardia airport connections, a fast ferry will also run between Lower Manhattan’s ferry terminals and a new LaGuardia ferry terminal where shuttle buses will deliver passengers directly to the airline terminals.”

The plan envisions a new South Ferry station that will accommodate an entire 10-car subway train rather than the existing five-car platform. New connections are to become available to the Staten Island Ferry and the N and R lines at Whitehall Street.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Downtown New York said that in two surveys it conducted the most important priority was a transit hub that would connect a rebuilt Port Authority Trans Hudson, or PATH, station at Ground Zero and a new subway station at Broadway and Fulton Street.

The Alliance said the No. 2 priority among those it polled was a high-speed direct rail line to JFK and Long Island. Those taking part in the survey said such a link was of utmost importance regardless of whether it involved using already existing tracks or a new East River tunnel.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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