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Sheldon Silver May Axe Moynihan Station Project

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TWC News: Sheldon Silver May Axe Moynihan Station Project
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It seemed that no one was opposed to the planned Moynihan Station, a $900-million project that would serve as an expanded Penn Station, easing overcrowding creating a majestic new transit hall in the old Farley Post Office building across the street. But now, some of the project's backers said that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is on the verge of killing it altogether.

"If it is voted down, the project is dead,” said Chair of the Empire State Development Corporation, Charles Gargano. “A whole new process would have to begin, right from the beginning."

Silver has already twice delayed a vote by the Public Authorities Control Board, this is the same state panel that killed a nearby Jets stadium last year. Governor George Pataki wants to hold a vote Friday, at a specially called session of the board. But Silver said he still has unanswered questions.

Silver has said he would prefer to wait and see what comes of a more ambitious proposal, one that would move Madison Square Garden one block to the west, to Ninth Avenue, allowing parts of Penn Station to be opened up to sunlight and allowing for a complex of office buildings to be built here.

The expanded plan is a concept favored by Silver's fellow Democrat, the frontrunner for governor, Eliot Spitzer.

"It's a spectacular project,” said Spitzer. “And it is something that longer-term, inevitably, must happen for that portion of midtown."

But Gargano said the expanded plan is really little more than a model and a conceptual drawing. Moynihan, by contrast, is a project years in the planning. Environmental reviews are complete, the funding is in place, and Moynihan Station would have to be built first anyway.

"This project, we can start construction now, creating 10,000 construction jobs immediately, have the project built in four to five years,” said Gargano. “If we start all over again, this project may not be built for a minimum of ten years or more."

Wasting any more time, said Gargano, means the funding now in place could be lost. But others disagree, arguing the federal funding is not subject to re-appropriation.

In any case, what is clear is that until Sheldon Silver's concerns are addressed, Moynihan Station is not getting off the ground.

-Bobby Cuza


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