September 5, 2012

CornellNYC Tech Campus Found Home; Now, Debating How to Get There

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When the University begins construction on its NYCTech Campus on Roosevelt Island, buildings are not the only new infrastructure New York City will have to support.  The city is currently conducting a review of Roosevelt Island, the two-mile long landmass situated in New York City’s East River to analyze the environmental impact of the tech campus, as well as to determine whether there will be adequate transportation to and from the campus, according to tech campus Vice President Cathy Dove.

Roosevelt Island, which has a population of 12,000 people, lies under the Queensboro Bridge and is connected to Queens by the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

“One of the reasons we are so excited about the Roosevelt Island site is its great connectivity to the rest of New York City,” Dove said. “There are a number of modes of transportation that can be used to reach [the campus].”

At least one prominent New Yorker, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), has advocated the expansion of public transportation around the NYCTech Campus.

This summer, Schumer called on the Metropolitan Transit Authority  to improve access between CornellNYC Tech and New York’s tech centers with new public bus routes that he dubbed the “Nerd Bus.”

According to a press release issued by Schumer’s office, the senator supports the creation of an express route that would service important points in the New York City technology sector, including neighborhoods in downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Long Island City and Roosevelt Island. This proposed expansion would create a “tech highway” between students at CornellNYC Tech and technology professionals in the city, according to Schumer’s office.

“You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that connecting these neighborhoods through a ‘Nerd Bus’ is a no-brainer. The only thing separating these neighborhoods in New York City is a lack of transit connections,” Schumer said in a statement. “We need a high-speed rapid transit connection between Roosevelt Island and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, with stops at new hubs like Long Island City and the Navy Yard, and residential areas in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.”

Dove detailed a number of options offered by New York City’s MTA to reach the Roosevelt Island campus aside from the use of cars and buses over the Roosevelt Island Bridge. She pointed out that the F subway train, which runs through New York’s own tech sectors in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens has a stop on Roosevelt Island, enabling easy traffic between students enrolled at NYCTech and their professional counterparts throughout the city.

In addition to the subway,  there is a tram that provides direct access from Roosevelt Island to the East side of Manhattan. The tram, along with the F train and the Q102 bus line that passes through Roosevelt Island, can be paid for with a MetroCard — an electronic payment method used for public transportation in the city.

While Dove maintained that there “are a number of great transportation options now,” she also acknowledged that there has been a push to increase public transportation in the area before the tech campus.

“Long before Cornell was selected to construct the applied sciences campus, there has been discussion of extending the East River ferry service to Roosevelt Island,” she said.

Residents of Roosevelt Island have also advocated an additional subway line, as well as a pedestrian and bike elevator off of the Queensboro bridge, Dove said.

Original Author: Jacob Glick