Today’s news:

Pataki to unveil decision on Wall St.-JFK rail link

It was thought that Pataki would announce his support for the rail link at a meeting of the Association for a Better New York in Manhattan Wednesday. The question was whether the governor would chose to dig a $5 billion tunnel beneath the East River or an alternate plan to use the existing Montague Street tunnel in Brooklyn. It now serves trains of the M, N and R subway lines.

Under both plans, the route would take the rail link from Lower Manhattan to JFK by a route through Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Jamaica, Queens en route to JFK. Some planners say the cost of both proposals might be nearly the same and thus the subway tunnel idea might be the better since it would involve no construction that would cause years of chaos on the surface.

The two plans are the survivors of four original proposals, announced last winter to provide a direct trip from Lower Manhattan to Kennedy airport.

One of the earlier plans of the four under consideration by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. would have had a rapid transit system sharing the Cranberry Street tunnel, which serves the A and C subway lines.

Gene Russianoff, an attorney for the transit advocacy agency Straphangers Campaign, said his group thought the Montague Tunnel proposal might result in impaired subway service since subway trains would be sharing the tunnel with the rail link.

Numerous elected officials, including state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), whose district includes Lower Manhattan, have long favored a high-speed link from the area to JFK.

City Councilman John Liu (d-Flushing), chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee, said the proposals were “typical of Governor Pataki.”

“The governor does not hesitate to spend billions on bettering the lot of suburban commuters who go to Wall Street every day and yet pay no commuter tax to the city of New York,” Liu said. “But he hesitates to spend much less money — millions rather than billions of dollars — on projects that include express buses that would greatly help the people of New York City.”

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

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