Fidler’s folly: Let’s tunnel to SI!

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Here’s an idea whose time has come — again: How about a subway to Staten Island?

This back-to-the-future bombshell was dropped by Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie) last week as one of the points in his “Nine-CARAT STONE Plan” (the awkward acronym stands for “Clean our Air, Reduce All Traffic, Support Transportation Operations in New York’s Environs”).

The tunnel, which would allow for an extension of the subway system to Staten Island from the critical 59th Street station just north of Bay Ridge, was first proposed back in the 1920s — and workers even started digging it — but the project was abandoned due to opposition of Staten Islanders and disputes between then-Mayor Hylan and the then-independent subway operators.

“The city put it out to bid, but they didn’t like the numbers that came back,” said transit historian Larry Furlong. “And, obviously, the people of Staten Island, which was then quite rural, didn’t want it.”

But times have certainly changed. Drivers — many coming to and from Staten Island — choke the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway all day.

In addition to a transit tunnel, Fidler supported a cross-Harbor freight tunnel and burying the BQE to open up the Sunset Park waterfront to parkland and economic development — both dreams of transit wonks.

To pay for it, Fidler would levy a one-third-of-one-percent tax on all employer payrolls in the tri-state region.

“Congestion is a regional problem and requires a regional solution,” he told The Brooklyn Paper. “In order to get off Staten Island, residents have to use one fossil-fueled vehicle or another — car or bus. It’s ridiculous that the fastest-growing borough has no access to the rest of the city.”

Fidler called the Nine CARAT STONE Plan his “alternative to congestion pricing,” which he believes does not share the burden fairly. All told, Fidler’s follies would cost well more than $10 billion, he estimated, but the payroll tax would generate $1-2 billion.

Updated 4:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

teegee says:
I never heard of Fidler before - but I love him. We spend that amount of money every day in Iraq why not use it to improve our quality of life. I would gladly pay higher taxes to finally begin addressing the regional transportation problems. Maybe we should also disband the PA. They were created for one job - to study and build the cross harbor rail tunnel - they screwed that up and now are a government unto themselves - taxing us as they please through tolls and not answerable to us.
Nov. 9, 2007, 7:06 am
PJ Jimenez says:
We can thank Robert Moses for the Verrazano Narrows a state of the art bridge and no subway connection. What was he smoking back then?
Nov. 10, 2007, 12:07 pm
Chris G. says:
Bravo for dusting off this old chestnut.

Yes, the time has indeed come for the sub-insula tunnel (SIT).

It was obvious 100 years ago, and is moreso now..

"Folly" is unFair.

Dig the chunnel!
Nov. 10, 2007, 7:23 pm
michael says:
This is an incredibley smart idea, extending or improving public transport can only benefit the city.
Nov. 13, 2007, 10:11 am
Nick says:
Great, but, my payroll is taxed enough here. Find another source, perhaps taxing luxury vehicles! No more payroll tax!
Nov. 13, 2007, 9:58 pm
Mike from Travis, Staten Island says:
I'm all for this!
March 27, 2008, 10:12 pm
Sal from Dongan Hills, SI says:
This is only common sense. the other day it took me 45mins just to cross the fuc*in bridge, oh and a half hour to get to the damn thing from CLOVE ROAD.
Lets get this thing built already, tell the govt and transit planners to get off their asses already!
June 5, 2008, 10:57 am
catherine from South Beach says:
Living on Staten Island for years I have seen many changes but not for the better.

The bridge changed all that!

Most of the traffic on Staten Island is not
from Staten Islanders, but everywhere else like
New Jersey ane Long Island, etc.

We already have enough disturbance everywhere
from the all the over building and construction changes! Oh yes, we pay for it
constantly with tolls, noise,over crowding and increase crime. You can keep your subways!
Feb. 23, 2010, 4:53 pm
Rich Gilberto from Staten Island says:
How would a tunnel between 59th st and Staten Island be any kind of a folly?
March 30, 2010, 2:58 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
@PJ: The VZ bridge was supposed to have subway tracks in the middle, but eventually the idea was discarded due to opposition from SI'ers. They never wanted the subway on SI and they are stuck with the consequences now.
Dec. 13, 2010, 10:56 am
dREW from Manhattan Beach says:
The Owl's Head Park tunnel was planned by the BRT in 1912 and a part of it built from the Park out into the Narrows some 150ft by the successor BMT 1923-1925. There once (1939-40) where later plans to make use of that short tunnel segment for a Bklyn-SI IND Line itself proposed from a never built Ft. Hamilton Line. These Lines to originate from the IND's existing Crosstown Line. Frankly building the FtHam IND Line to at least 68th and then the Bklyn-SI Line from there to connect to the SIRwy is probably the better bang for the bucks AND enables faster service via a thru-Express into Manhattan via Bergen Str. lower-level platforms as a best answer to critiques.
July 10, 2013, 3:26 pm
St1973 from shore ac says:
IF, I’m wrong please correct me know. Does , Staten Island needs to building a badly needed transportation infrastructure that includes a train tunnel and yes ferry is fine but what I mention before is what is in more demand . Do you agree? I just purchase Apartment, located on Cliff st, right next door to the coast guard station. If the island does not build alternative transportation, what’s the point of staying on the island, and others who travel to the City will feel the same! No or Yes?
July 3, 2015, 5:41 am

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