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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: August 2010 Archives

August 2010 Archives

There's something about seeing a new bridge go up that's just as exciting today as it was more than century ago, when so many of our city's great bridges were first constructed. Over the past few weeks, many New Yorkers experienced that thrill first-hand, as they watched the new Willis Avenue Bridge make its journey down the Hudson, and then up the East River to its final destination in the Harlem River. On Monday, that journey came to an end when the 2,400-ton bridge was finally floated into place.  
Willis Avenue Bridge, from Circle Line boat ju...

Image via Wikipedia

About two months from now, the new span will open to traffic and replace the original Willis Avenue Bridge, which has served our city since 1901. The new bridge features improved, direct connections to the FDR Drive and northbound Major Deegan Expressway, and is part of more than $5 billion in bridge investments made by our administration since 2002. We have continued to make essential investments in our transportation infrastructure, even in tough economic times, because these projects strengthen our city's quality of life and our global competitiveness. 
Great cities also need great gateways -- and last week we stood with Delta Airlines as the company announced a major, $1.2 billion modernization and expansion of its international terminal at JFK Airport. When it opens in 2013, the new terminal will welcome millions more international passengers to our city.
The Delta expansion will create an additional 10,000 jobs in the metropolitan area over the next three-and-a-half years, and increase the company's impact on our regional economy by almost 50 percent, to $19 billion annually.
Investments in our city's transportation infrastructure will pay returns many times over in increased Broadway ticket sales, hotel room nights, retail and restaurant business, and all the many jobs that these industries help support. In fact, the latest tourism numbers show that more visitors are coming here than ever. During the first six months of this year, some 23.5 million people visited New York City. That's an increase of nearly 9 percent over the same period last year. It puts us on track to exceed our record-setting 2008 tourism number of 47 million visitors, and also to meet our goal of hosting 50 million annual visitors by the year 2012.
While tourism in other cities is also rebounding, no city will come close to us in terms of total visitors this year, except for Orlando, Florida. It was just last year that New York beat out Orlando as the nation's top tourist destination. And if we finish the year strong, we may well do it again.
The fact that our city is rebounding further and faster than other cities is no coincidence. The momentum we're seeing now is directly tied to the investments we continued to make, even in the deepest months of the national recession. And if we can keep improving our city's quality of life, if we keep building the roads, airport terminals, and bridges that will bring our city through this century and beyond, we can continue making our city the world's greatest place to live, work, and visit.
With so many New Yorkers still struggling to find jobs, we're working hard to pull our City through these difficult economic times.  One way is to keep finding new and innovative ways to improve the quality-of-life that attracts people to live here and businesses to expand here.  Recently, we unveiled two gold star examples of what I'm talking about.
The first is a new life-saving medical procedure we're applying in cases of cardiac arrest - the sudden and potentially fatal loss of heart function.  These are emergencies in which every second counts.  And now New York City's paramedics are trained and equipped to start what's called "hypothermia therapy" while they're transporting patients to the hospital.  It involves lowering a patient's body temperature in order to reduce possible brain cell damage and prevent lasting physical or neurological harm.  It's a procedure that has already increased the survival rate of cardiac arrest patients in emergency rooms by 20 percent.  Now that paramedics are able to start this treatment themselves, we expect it to save the lives, and improve the quality-of-life, of hundreds more New Yorkers every year.
We have also taken a big step toward unlocking thousands of acres of currently unusable land across the City, and making it economically productive again.  These sites are called "brownfields" - areas contaminated often many years ago, by industrial debris or other pollutants.  Cleaning up the City's brownfields is a major goal of the PlaNYC environmental agenda we unveiled on Earth Day in 2007.
Now we're making it possible for landowners to clean up brownfields under the nation's first City-run program of its kind.  That's a win for neighborhoods long pock-marked by vacant, blighted eyesores that bring down property values and safety.  It's also good news for our economy.  For too long, the threat of future legal liability has often discouraged developers from cleaning up brownfields, even though they had no role in polluting these areas in the first place.  But by acting responsibly and meeting City clean-up standards, they can now reduce their legal liability.  That will give developers the confidence they need to make investments and go forward with projects that will create the housing, open spaces, and jobs that our growing city needs.
A key part of the City's new brownfields program is an agreement we signed last week with State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis.  While State officials will continue to oversee clean-ups of the most heavily polluted brownfields in the five boroughs, the City will now supervise clean-ups of less contaminated sites under regulations that conform to the State's high standards.  We've worked closely with the State to develop this brownfield clean-up program.  That's just the kind of City-State cooperation that makes especially good sense in an era of reduced government resources, and it's going to help us keep New York's economic recovery on track.

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