NEW YORK CITY-When it comes to rebuilding the World Trade Center, the Port Authority needs to “figure out a way to come up with something” for financing the project, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a radio address on Friday. Staying on message, the mayor cited an earlier joint statement from his office along with New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who say “this country’s not going to stand for a hole in the ground,” at Ground Zero.

Implying that both the New Jersey and New York Governors should exert greater influence over decisions at the bi-state agency, Bloomberg suggested that in New York’s case, the PA should also respond to the Mayor, not just the Governor, since many of its larger projects are within New York City borders.

But a spokesperson for Governor David Paterson’s office tells that the “Port Authority runs regional transportation facilities; it should remain in the hands of the Governors.”

That said, the Mayor used his air-time to propose tapping into another pool of funds to help finance the WTC project. He told listeners “maybe we can get Congress to help and re-allocate some of the funds for projects that probably aren’t going to get done in the short term, like Moynihan Station.” News reports later quoted Mayoral aides as saying he was talking about $2 billion in un-used tax credits Congress appropriated to city transportation projects after 9/11 including Moynihan Station.

The Mayor’s suggestion came a day after Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director Chris Ward implied to a Business and Labor Coalition breakfast forum that a number of large PA transportation hub and infrastructure projects may not happen because of the “$12 billion” being spent by the Port at the World Trade Center which could lead to challenging budget shortfalls.

Lending support to Port Authority concerns, the Governor’s spokesperson tells that “the more money that goes into Ground Zero, the less money goes into other programs.”

Calling the money re-route idea perplexing, a spokesperson for the Regional Planning Association says while its understandable the Mayor wants the WTC deal to move forward, there are alternatives to taking funds that were allocated to Moynihan station. More to the point, the RPA spokesperson says it “feels very strongly that the role of the PA should be in building and maintaining the region’s infrastructure, not being an investor in commercial office space,” raising further questions as to what funds the Mayor was actually talking about.

Governor Paterson’s spokesperson says any stimulus funding for the Moynihan project would come from a discretionary program that would not be able to be used for Ground Zero. The spokesperson adds “Port Authority continues to work with the Moynihan Station Development Corp. and Amtrak.”

Regardless, as has been the case with the World Trade Center project, efforts at realizing the Moynihan Station transportation hub have been delayed by its own set of problems, everything from financing to concerns over that project’s size and scope. It’s been around 16 years since Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan first proposed the transformation of the McKim, Meade and White designed building at 421 Eighth Ave. into a new, grander Penn Station than the current underground structure serving as the nation’s busiest transit center.

After years of project inertia and what appeared to be a sense of dormancy at the site, in 2006, New York State quasi-governmental agency Empire State Development Corp. arrived at an increasingly clear project blueprint for the structure including cost estimates of around $14 billion. In 2007, ESDC bought the Farley Post Office building, designed by the same builders as the original Penn Station that had been torn down beginning in 1963, from the Postal Service for $230 million. Of that amount, the Port Authority contributed $140 million according to the Regional Planning Commission.

By September 2008, Governor David Patterson was calling for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take over the Moynihan Station project. In March 2009, New York Senator Charles Schumer called on the Port to contribute at least $1 billion to the Moynihan transit hub.

The RPA spokesperson says giving PA more control at Moynihan would be logical since “it’s a transportation project with regional benefits,” which is the business Port Authority is in.

Equally significant and necessary to the future economic health of Lower Manhattan, is construction of a transportation hub at the World Trade Center.

A 2003 study and subsequent plan produced in conjunction with the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. through the organization RENEWNYC said “key to the recovery and future success of Lower Manhattan is accessibility.” Noting that “transportation improvements must act as a catalyst for economic development,” the plan called for creation of a “Grand Point of Arrival,” that includes the “presence of an iconic and efficient transportation complex.”

A source close to the Mayor expresses worry that if the World Trade Center project goes into stalemate, it will impact future plans for a transportation hub at the site. Further, as the source says, a less impressive structure at the WTC could impact ground rents and revenue that the Port Authority would earn from Silverstein Properties.

Nonetheless, after reassuring that all sides in the WTC dispute are in fact still communicating, the source familiar with the Mayor blames Port Authority for not ceding any ground. Of Moynihan Station the source said “it’s not like it’s moving at the moment.”

Hoping to boost that project along, the RPA spokesperson says the organization, along with several civic groups, is drafting a letter that urges funding for the Moynihan project, arguing that this is the time to get the project going. The spokesperson says of the WTC and Moynihan station they are both so important.

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