Off the Hook! Cuomo calls for new Red Hook subway and redeveloped waterfront in annual address

Bright decision: City to install traffic signal at busy Red Hook intersection
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

He’s seeing Red!

A new subway line could serve Red Hook, Gov. Cuomo announced in his annual State of the State speech on Wednesday, during which he called on two state-run agencies to probe whether building an underwater tunnel that connects the coastal enclave with the outer borough of Manhattan will stimulate growth in the transit-starved nabe.

“Explore whether Red Hook has enough transportation alternatives or if they should study the possibility of a new subway line to stimulate Red Hook’s community-based development, the way we did on the west side of Manhattan, and with the east-side line,” Cuomo said while delivering his speech up in Albany.

But first, the state’s Commander in Chief asked that Port Authority of New York and New Jersey honchos pack up their maritime operation at the Red Hook Container Terminal — a waterfront port roughly the size of Brooklyn Bridge Park that runs from the foot of Carroll Street to Atlantic Avenue — and ship it down to Sunset Park’s South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, in order to free up the massive marina for its potential redevelopment into a new transit hub.

“Red Hook is full of untapped potential, and with this proposal, I am calling on the Port Authority to accelerate consideration of relocating its Red Hook maritime activities to free up this waterfront for more productive community use,” Cuomo said in a press release.

Last year, Port Authority chiefs floated the idea of selling the terminal when its current lease expires this year, but ultimately decided to keep the port in the shipping business for bit longer as they consider a future sale.

And Cuomo’s isn’t the first call to bring a subway to the nabe. In 2016, executives at California-based engineering firm AECOM pitched a massive redevelopment of the waterfront — including the container-terminal site — that proposed extending the 1 train from its terminus in Manhattan to Red Hook and building massive high-rises, but local leaders and residents slammed the idea, charging the port’s maritime roots should not be abandoned.

The governor’s announcement came on the heels of Mayor DeBlasio’s in-development plan to lay 14 miles of light-rail tracks from Sunset Park through Red Hook and into the outer borough of Queens as part of a new trolley, the Brooklyn Queens Connector.

Other subway-starved areas were conspicuously absent from Cuomo’s plan to increase locals’ transit options, including Marine Park, which is not being served by the mayor’s streetcar and where locals are still pushing for a century-old proposal to stretch the 2 and 5 trains’ route from Eastern Parkway to Avenue U.

City officials said it’s too early to say if the governor’s proposed Red Hook subway would impact Hizzoner’s trolly plan — and did not respond to a request for comment whether his suggestion to bring another transit-infrastructure project to the nabe is merely the latest swipe in the two pols’ ongoing spat.

A spokesman for the Port Authority said its honchos look forward to working with leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the tunnel project.

“We anticipate including the study in our Port Master Plan analysis that is currently underway, and we will work with New York City officials on a timetable for discussions on consolidation alternatives at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal,” said Steve Coleman. “We look forward to collaboratively developing options for the maritime activity.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.