Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Apprentice Show Donald Trump receives help from Congress.

Billionaire Donald Trump has fame, fortune, and a hit TV show, but Congress wants to give him a little more: $2.5 million to pave the way for better views from his big West Side towers project. The $284 billion highway spending bill passed overwhelmingly last week by the House includes a provision for some $2.5 million in road construction that would boost Trump's long-held goal of burying part of the West Side Highway near West 61st St.

Burying that section would add park space and provide better views from Trump Place, a group of towers looking over the Hudson River. Trump's hope of lowering the West Side Highway has been a political sore point for years, in part because Rep. Jerrold Nadler, in whose district the project lies, opposes the plan to tear down and bury the elevated highway before it wears out. Nadler, D-Manhattan, openly fought with Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, in 1998 over a similar $6 million provision for construction at the site. It is unusual for a member of Congress to push for a spending provision outside their own district. Keith Ashdown, vice-president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a government watchdog group, blasted the funding as pork-barrel spending at its worst. "There's probably a very short list of individuals who don't deserve to get any federal money, and I would put Donald Trump at the top of that list," said Ashdown, who also complained that no lawmaker has been willing yet to take credit for the spending measure. "Nobody knows for sure who put this in the bill behind closed doors in the dead of night, so Donald Trump's getting a check for $2.5 million and nobody's even saying who did that." Neither Nadler's office nor Kelly's office would immediately comment on the $2.5 million provision, and a spokesman for Trump did not immediately return a call for comment. The $2.5 million would help complete construction of a steel frame underneath Riverside Boulevard around West 61st Street. A steel frame underneath that road would make it easier and cheaper for construction crews to later lower part of the West Side Highway. Moving the highway, also known as the Joe DiMaggio Highway, below ground would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The Senate plans to take up the massive six-year construction spending bill this week.


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