MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES CITY ACQUIRES HIGH LINE
FROM CSX TRANSPORTATION
Trail Use Agreement Signed Permitting Recreational Uses
on the Elevated Rail Structure; Transformation into
Public Open Space to Begin in 2006
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that the City of New York acquired title to the High Line elevated rail viaduct from CSX Transportation, Inc. this month. CSX donated the High Line to the City, and the transfer of ownership clears the way for the structure's transformation into a public open space to begin in 2006. Open space on the High Line will run from Gansevoort Street in Manhattan's Meatpacking District through West Chelsea to the Hudson Yards. In addition, the City and CSX signed a Trail Use Agreement, permitting the rail structure to be used by the public as a recreational amenity. The first section of the High Line is projected to open to the public in 2008.
"The transfer of ownership of the High Line from CSX to the City marks another important milestone in our efforts to create a one-of-a-kind public space for all New Yorkers," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This unique public amenity will become a symbol of all that is great in New York as we plan for our future by creating much needed parks and public spaces. This is another terrific example of the public and private sectors working together to make the City a healthier and more beautiful place, and of creative people pursuing visions that would seem impossible anywhere else in the world. Members of my Administration who've worked so hard on this project, and our partners at Friends of the High Line and CSX, should be proud of the legacy we are creating for future generations of New Yorkers."
"We are delighted that our donation of the High Line to the City of New York will result in a new public space for residents and tourists to enjoy," said CSX Corporation Senior VP of Regulatory Affairs and Washington Counsel Peter Shudtz. "CSX's donation of the property and the accompanying Trail Use Agreement with the City of New York would not have been possible without the dedication and coordination of many in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. We are especially appreciative of the partnership and commitment of the Bloomberg Administration to turn this property into a public amenity, and we commend the vision and persistence of Robert Hammond and Joshua David of Friends of the High Line who tirelessly advocated for the High Line's reuse. CSX is pleased to be a part of what promises to be an exceptional public space in New York City."
"The High Line will be this century's Central Park," said City Council Speaker Gifford Miller. "Establishing the framework for the High Line's transformation was among my top priorities as Speaker, and I'm extremely pleased to see the Council's leadership bear such wonderful results in such a short time. The High Line is an inspiring New York success story, showing how diverse constituencies can work together to create something great for New York City's future."
"Railbanking the High Line was our most important goal when we started Friends of the High Line in 1999, and now that huge advance has been accomplished, thanks to the successful completion of the Trail Use Agreement and transfer of ownership from CSX to the City," said FHL Co-founder Robert Hammond. "We're especially grateful to Mayor Bloomberg and his Administration for their vision and unstinting work to move the project forward. They took a structure that had been mired in legal disputes for nearly 20 years and turned it around, bringing it to the start of construction in just three short years. We also thank City Council Speaker Gifford Miller for championing the High Line's transformation and committing much-needed funds; Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Representative Jerrold Nadler for their successful efforts to bring major federal funding to the project; and CSX for its openness to the High Line being preserved and reused to benefit all New Yorkers."
The transfer of ownership puts title to the High Line in control of the City of New York. The Trail Use Agreement concludes negotiations between the City and CSX Transportation, Inc., to allow the High Line to become a railbanked trail. Railbanking, a method of creating trails from out-of-use rail corridors, was established by a 1983 Congressional amendment to the National Trails Systems Act. There are over 13,000 miles of rail-trails across the country. The City originally petitioned the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) for authorization to create a railbanked trail on the High Line in December 2002. In June 2005, the STB authorized a Certificate of Interim Trail Use (CITU) for the High Line. The CITU enabled the completion of negotiations for the Trail Use Agreement and transfer of ownership.
Construction on the High Line project is scheduled to begin in 2006. The work will be divided into two scopes of work: site preparation, which includes removal of the rails and ballast, comprehensive waterproofing, and stripping and painting of all steel, and construction of the public landscape including access systems (stairs and elevators), pathways, plantings, seating, lighting, safety enhancements and other features. The first section of the High Line is projected to open to the public in 2008. The preliminary design for the first phase of the High Line's transformation can be viewed at http://www.thehighline.org/design. The preliminary design will continue to evolve as the project moves toward construction.
In the fall of 2004, the Mayor and Speaker Miller announced new capital funding commitments for the High Line bringing the total funding commitment to $61.75 million. In January 2005, $3 million in federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) funding was allocated by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council's New York City Transportation Coordinating Committee. In June 2005, the West Chelsea neighborhood surrounding the High Line was rezoned to support its reuse as a public space, to provide opportunities for new residential and commercial development, and to enhance the neighborhood's thriving art gallery district. And in August 2005, Senators Schumer and Clinton, and U.S. Representative Nadler announced that they had secured $18 million in capital funding in the multi-year federal transportation bill. These elected officials also brought $1.5 million to the project in appropriations bills in 2004 and 2005. Lastly, State Assemblymember Gottfried worked to bring $50,000 in State Multi-Modal Transportation Program funds to the High Line.
Friends of the High Line (FHL), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, began advocating for the High Line's reuse as public open space in 1999. In 2002, the Bloomberg Administration endorsed the project when it filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) requesting authorization to create a railbanked trail on the High Line. The STB gave that authorization, in the form of a Certificate of Interim Trail Use (CITU), in June 2005. It is important to note that the High Line is not yet open to the public, and trespassers are subject to prosecution.