Lyndon LaRouche Calls for Committee on Manhattan Infrastructure

June 14, 2017

by Diane Sare

Last week, in response to a report from Manhattan Project organizers, Lyndon LaRouche proposed that a committee be created to do something about the alarming collapse of the Manhattan-area transportation grid, and to “kick whomever needs it, to get it done.”

As anyone who has attempted to travel into or through New York City will tell you, the roads in some areas, especially on toll plazas by the bridges, look like they were hit by a carpet bombing campaign. One couple returning from Staten Island to New Jersey destroyed three tires in one large pot hole! And this, where each driver pays $15 just to cross the Hudson River! Driving is a high anxiety activity, which has become like an obstacle course in a war zone.

Then there’s the rail system. Aside from the fact that both the East and West Hudson River tunnels were built 107 years ago, in 1910, they were also damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2013, which flooded them with salt water, which is corrosive, but also leaves a nasty, rock hard residue around cables and wires, making “minor” repairs impossible. Some of the tunnels have been repaired, but the Canarsie Tunnel, built in 1924, which connects Manhattan to Brooklyn for 225,000 commuters each day, will have to be shut down for 15–18 months, beginning in 2019. The two tunnels crossing over from New Jersey need to be replaced, and there is no other tunnel to replace them or absorb the traffic while new tunnels are built.

New York Penn Station already is serving an average of 650,000 commuters per day, well over double the number of passengers for which it was built, and because it is so overloaded, and there are now so many delays due to ancient switches and storm damage, among other problems, no one knows which track a train will be pulling into, until just a few minutes before it arrives, so that there is a mad swarm of rushing New Yorkers suddenly all trying to move to the same location at the same time. In early April, when a train derailed due to old tracks, 8 out of the 21 tracks had to be shut down. The system is so run down, and so overloaded, that not only is there no redundancy, but any accident is likely to have a chain reaction, multiplier effect.

Repairs on Penn Station can no longer safely be delayed, so although there doesn’t seem to be any comprehensive plan yet in place, as of July 7, 2017 up to 20% of the Long Island RR trains will no longer be going there, and there will be similar reductions in NJ Transit trains. This is being called by Gov. Cuomo and others the beginning of the “Summer of Hell.” Supposedly the repairs are going to “only” take two months, but no one knows for sure. Also, although the partial shutdown begins on July 7th, no plan has actually been announced to address the plight of those commuters who need to get in and out of Manhattan each day. There are vague promises of ferries and buses, and proposals that some people should just start their work day at 4:00 am, but nothing concrete at all.

Tasks for the Committee

One of the tasks of LaRouche’s proposed committee would be to indicate what would be the potential consequences of doing nothing about this nightmare, which clearly could implode into a catastrophe, including with great loss of life. When asked this question, rail transport corridor expert Hal Cooper said the following, “New York City is the center of the United States. It's the financial center, it's the economic center, it's the social center, it's the political center. If we don't repair the infrastructure, the ability of the people who work in New York, and I understand that's something like 1.8 million [1.6 million people commute into Manhattan each day to work, bringing the daytime population of Manhattan to over 3 million. –dws] people work in New York City, and a large portion of them come from outside, either Westchester County or Rockland County, or from New Jersey or from Long Island, and many of them wouldn't be able to get to work. And what we're going to see is an economic breakdown and collapse is going to happen, because of so much of what is important in this country centers in New York City. And that is {absolutely essential}, and we will see a great breakdown if something is not done to correct the problem soon.”

In other words, the consequences of a breakdown of transportation in the New York Metropolitan area would not only be catastrophic to the people in New York, but would be devastating to the nation as a whole. This implosion must be prevented, but to do so requires urgent action, and even with urgent action, we will be unable to prevent certain damage from occurring.

What is needed is a comprehensive plan to integrate Manhattan into China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The fact that President Trump sent a high-level delegation to the Beijing conference in May, and has himself established a personal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping is a promising beginning. Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche, who spoke on a “Think Tank” panel in Beijing expressed the potential represented by Trump’s commitment to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, and to return to the “American System” of economics. She pointed out that Chinese estimates are that the US needs more like $8 trillion of infrastructure investment, and the American Society of Civil Engineers calls for about $4.5 trillion, so Trump’s proposal would definitely be a step in the right direction.

The obstacles to the implementation of this are the following: first, the stalling by the U.S. Congress on reinstating the FDR-era Glass-Steagall Act, for which bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate, and for which the President has stated his support, but no one has thus far been willing to force through; and second, the small-mindedness of the American people themselves, who after 16 years of Bush and Obama, on top of the post-JFK rock-drug-sex counterculture, which is now {the} culture, barely consider the future at all, except as something they’d like to avoid. Many of them are just drugging themselves into oblivion, when they should be grabbing their pitchforks and chasing down their Representatives with appropriate urgent demands.

There is also another important factor delaying such action, and that is the political witch hunt against President Trump directed out of London. The hysteria being spouted in the US News media about President Trump and his administration's relationship with anyone from Russia, and former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns to harass and scandalize the new administration are highly destructive, not so much of Trump personally, who has demonstrated a fortunate willingness to fight, but of the opportunity that now greets the American people in the wake of the Beijing Belt and Road Forum.

Consider NY from Space

The committee that Mr. LaRouche has called for, would have to step back and look at Manhattan as if from outer space. With the impending doom of local break down, it can be challenging to consider where the United States and the world will be even 50 years from now, much less 100 or 1000 years from now, but this is the kind of thinking that is required.

One factor, hopefully in the not-so-distant future, is the development of thermo-nuclear fusion power, which China is pursuing aggressively. With cheap, abundant, clean energy, what kind of transportation, manufacturing, water management, and even food production would become possible?

The Belt and Road is all about connectivity. Now that the Bayonne Bridge is going to be elevated, large freight container vessels can get into the Ports of Elizabeth and Newark. What are the implications of that for trade? Not much if our rail system is in a shambles. Should we have a rail transportation grid that connects our ports to our major cities? What about rail from Newark to China and Russia across the Bering Strait? What role would Detroit play in this? Could New York City become a manufacturing center again? How will we connect the Elizabeth Port to the high tech areas of Connecticut and Long Island? What about building the storm surge barrier that should have been erected before Sandy? Shouldn’t those industries in Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which contributed so much to the Apollo Project, be revived, to become part of NASA’s collaboration with China on a mission to Mars, and establishing an industrial base on the moon?

New York City and the contiguous areas have a high density of capable people, and potentially capable people, if there were a crash program to train them. These are the questions that the people of the United States need to urgently consider, not whether Jared Kushner had a meeting with the Russian Ambassador (which would probably have been a good idea, at any rate).

LaRouche’s Four Laws provide the parameters for the needed crash program. Now we must assemble a committee of experts who can fill in the details, and by so doing, transform the way that New Yorkers think about the current catastrophe. Remember, in Chinese the character for crisis and opportunity is the same.