With its core mission of enhancing the Staten Island economy and encouraging responsible and sustainable development throughout the borough, the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) continued to promote both public and private investment in 2018 with the introduction of several neighborhood initiatives. And the organization’s Projects Division, which consists of four urban planners working to bring new projects and programs to the borough, has a handful of promising projects on the drawing board for 2019.
West Shore Light RailWith two studies performed in 2004 and 2009, the SIEDC has long been a champion for the construction of a West Shore Light Rail, a 13mile route along the West Shore from Richmond Valley to Elm Park that would carry Staten Island commuters over the Bayonne Bridge to connect with New Jersey Transit’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line. “The West Shore Light Rail (WSLR) could provide a reliable and attractive travel choice for Staten Island residents located in South Shore and Mid-Island communities,” the SIEDC notes on its website. “The WSLR would extend NJ TRANSIT’s Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system (HBLRT) over the Bayonne Bridge and into western and southern portions of Staten Island and connect to the Staten Island Railway service at the Richmond Valley Station. Residents in this area of Staten Island now face long and unreliable travel options to Manhattan and other points outside of Staten Island, and also contend with significant traffic congestion on Staten Island itself.” The electric railway system would be able to operate
single or multiple car train sets along shared or exclusive rights-of-way. According
to the SIEDC, these systems could be at ground level, on aerial structures, or in streets, and are normally powered by overhead electrical wires. The project, which has faced funding obstacles, received a positive boon in 2017 when the MTA included $4 million in its amended capital plan for 2015-2019 to study its potential. And it was recently reported that the newly constructed Goethals Bridge was purposefully designed with room to implement alternate transportation options, including a potential light rail. All positive news for this signature project.
For years, the SIEDC has been leading a push for the borough’s “green movement,” even designating a Green Zone aimed at attracting companies that produce sustainable goods and services. This project, which began to blossom about four years ago along the Island’s West Shore, helped turn vacant, available land and unused waterfront space into a home for green technology companies, venture capitalists, strategic planners and marketers that recognize the economic development potential in green technology. Over the past few years, this space has also acted as a “go to place” for entrepreneurs preparing to take their sustainable business to the next level.
Staten Island Skyway
Taking a cue from Manhattan’s High Line and other linear parks across the country,
the SIEDC is partaking in various socioeconomic studies, hoping to spark an Urban Reclamation Project that will create a world-class park on the abandoned North Shore Railway. Dubbed the Staten Island Skyway, SIEDC executives say the project will have a profound economic impact on the neighborhoods that surround it and will play a part in reactivating the retail corridor on Port Richmond Avenue, allowing for new investment, new businesses and the reuse of historic buildings. Organizers also note the Skyway, which is still in the design phase, will provide a safe way for local residents to traverse Port Richmond Avenue and bypass narrow and unsafe winding roads.