Transit Plan Urges Climate Action

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- An aggressive plan to repair and improve New York's aging subway system in the next 15 years and a proposal to turn a wide swath of New Jersey's Meadowlands into a national park to help combat sea level rise are among recommendations in a master plan released Thursday by an urban planning think tank.

It is the Regional Plan Association's fourth regional plan. The first was issued in 1929 and the last was in 1996.

The association doesn't have a direct input into policy decisions, but its recommendations often are forward-thinking. For example, the 1996 plan included recommendations for east side access for the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and congestion pricing for cars entering the city, ideas that "no politician supported" at the time but that since have entered the mainstream, RPA President Tom Wright said this week.

The 2017 plan considers fixing New York's aging and problem-plagued subway system the highest priority, and envisions an accelerated work schedule that would include shutting down the system on weekday overnights when about 1.5 percent of riders use it, according to Wright.

The plan recommends congestion pricing for cars entering the city and adding tolls on area highways to pay for infrastructure projects. It also echoes a recommendation made last summer to build a new bus terminal in the basement of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on New York's west side, instead of building a new terminal near the current one at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue as is currently under consideration.

The Meadowlands in northern New Jersey, home to MetLife Stadium and the future American Dream retail and entertainment complex, was inundated during 2012's Superstorm Sandy, which sent the Hackensack River flooding into towns north of the stadium.

An extensive park system would help maintain the area's wildlife and ecosystem as well as protect the area from sea level rise, according to the plan. Just one additional foot of sea rise could permanently flood Teterboro Airport by mid-century, Wright said.

(KA)