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New Details of West Side Yards Light Rail Suggest Impracticability

Further details emerged yesterday about the “elevated light rail” that would connect Penn Station with the offices and housing proposed for the West Side railyards we blogged about on Tuesday. We were perhaps unnecessarily caustic about monorails in that post, but the new details, reported by Eliot Brown in yesterday’s New York Sun, suggest that our skepticism about the proposal might not have been misplaced.

The Durst Organization, Brown reports, will propose the High Line’s former rail viaduct as the conduit for its monorail when it submits its bid for the railyards site next week.Sentient New Yorkers will remember that local residents have been fighting for some time to turn the High Line into a public park, and sentient readers of this blog will recall that on Tuesday we understood that the developer would be responsible for the light rail line and not the MTA. Local assemblyman Richard Gottfried expressed a cautious interest in the proposal saying “Eleventh Avenue is a long walk from Eighth Avenue,” but he doubted the practicality of using the High Line viaduct. The MTA, on the other hand, after reviewing the plans, pronounced them to be “unfeasible” and “extremely costly” A reasonable response, perhaps, since, as Brown reports, the developer is proposing to share construction costs with the agency, but to operate the line itself.

The state has still not announced whether the bids for the rail yards, or portions of them, will be made public before a selection is made, but the Municipal Art Society is very supportive of the idea of a mass transit connection between 6th and 12th avenues and hopes that workable proposals will be introduced that offer first-class service to the area’s thousands of new commuters and residents.