Non-Westway Turns 25

Advocates for the environment and mass transit say Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the defeat of Westway.

It was on September 30th, 1985, when the federal government allowed New York to use more than a billion dollars slated for a proposed expressway along Manhattan's West Side for mass transit instead.

That came after 11 years of fighting by community groups against the project, which would have required filling in part of the Hudson River, sinking the West Side Highway, and covering it with a deck that would allow for high-rise development. The advocates saw the plan as a land grab by real estate interests and a poor use of funds in a transit-dependent city.

“We got the news that day,” said Marcy Benstock, the executive director of the Clean Air Campaign, and one of the leaders of the campaign to defeat Westway. “I don't remember details of that day except that I remember saying to myself, with the biggest smile on my face, they traded it in, they traded it in.”

Benstock says the money went towards the MTA’s capital plan, paying for signal and track work, decreasing the need for the authority to borrow money.