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Project Dates
01/01/1989 - 12/31/1991
Project Status

The sustained economic success that thrust New York into international preeminence has been closely linked to the development and  maintenance of superior systems of transportation. Whether in the leading role or a supporting position, transportation underwent critical improvements as one economic era evolved into the next. In the 19th Century the Erie Canal made New York City the gateway to the frontier. Later in the same century outstanding port facilities attracted the commerce and immigrant talent that would thrust the region into a role of manufacturing leadership. An outstanding system of ferries were sufficient to overcome the barriers to commerce and labor movement presented by the rivers and bays. The levels of population and employment at the turn of the century required new and longer term thinking about the nature and quality of the transportation system. As a result, the planners, engineers, and financiers produced a major portion of the network of bridges, tunnels, and mass transit infrastructure that define the surface transportation that we know today. Later, commuter railroads, parkways, and expressways would help guarantee that the suburban era would not mean the loss of economic firepower by the urban centers such as New York City and Newark. With the advent of airborne transportation, the region maintained its international role by developing state-of-the-art airports that kept the city and region well ahead of potential competitors.

Now, however, for more than two decades, aside from occasional critical maintenance projects and enhancements, little has been added to the transportation network. While it is true that some of the slack has been taken up by significant advances in the region's telecommunications linkages, there remains the persistent, vexing issue of what  transportation improvements are necessary to keep the New York-New Jersey region abreast of competition in an era increasingly marked by internationalization of the economic playing field and dispersal of economic power.