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Senators and Amtrak to propose less ambitious trans-Hudson tunnel project

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Filed: Timeline

Amtrak’s top executive and New Jersey’s two U.S. senators Monday are expected to announce an alternative to the Hudson River commuter-train tunnel that was killed by Gov. Chris Christie in October.

The "Gateway" tunnel proposed by Amtrak would largely follow the same footprint as the canceled nine-mile Access to the Region’s Core tunnel from Secaucus to New York City, but connect to new tracks in an expanded New York Penn Station instead of dead-ending deep under West 34th Street.

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The Gateway tunnel would allow 13 additional NJ Transit trains per hour — from 20 to 33 — and eight more Amtrak trains. The ARC project would have allowed 25 extra NJ Transit trains per hour.

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Amtrak officials say they believe the tunnel fits in well with President Obama’s vision for infrastructure improvements in America and high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C.

The hope is to have the Gateway tunnel built in a decade.

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"New Jersey is facing a transportation crisis," [senator Lautenberg] said. "Our commuters are fed up with train delays that make them late to work and endless traffic that traps them on our highways when they want to be home with their families. When the ARC tunnel was canceled, it was clear to me that we couldn’t just throw up our hands and wait years to find another solution."

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"This is not ARC," [Martin Robins, director emeritus of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University] added. "In some respects, it is a lesser project. But it is still a very significant project. There will be benefits that will reverberate throughout New Jersey. This can be a wonderful alternative."

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/nj_senators_to_announce_new_co.html

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Filed: Timeline

Christie: I'm thrilled

Christie said he is "thrilled" with the new Gateway tunnel proposal, pointing out that it addresses his concerns: the planned tunnel won’t end deep below Macy’s, New Jersey taxpayers won’t be on the hook for cost overruns and the federal government will take the lead.

"I’ve said all along that I think we need a second tunnel under the Hudson River," the governor said.

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Less Jersey-centric, but more flexible and all-encompassing, the Gateway tunnel would connect to new tracks in an expanded New York Penn Station instead of dead-ending deep under West 34th Street.

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Amtrak president and CEO Joseph Boardman ... said that when the present Hudson River train tunnels were opened in 1911, there were 6 million people in the metropolitan area.

"Now we have over 18 million people, but we have the same two tunnels," he said, adding that during peak hours, trains pass through every 150 seconds.

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Filed: Timeline

Why is this tunnel such a big deal? I wish they'd build another one for cars, but trains? Who needs more trains?

Most commuters can't afford to park in Manhattan. That's why the trains are packed like sardines.

And I believe Bloomberg wants to cut down on auto traffic in Manhattan as it is and encourage more use of mass transit.

They ought to focus on the bus lines, too. They are also at capacity and are very popular with commuters from regions without convenient train access.

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