Amtrak To Announce Gateway Tunnel Project

The Gateway Tunnel
What the Gateway Tunnel would look like if built out. Photo courtesy of The Star-Ledger via Amtrak & Google Maps.

Over the past month, one of the biggest stories in our region was the death of the ARC project by Gov. Christie under the disguise of fiscal responsibility. The tunnel which would have helped increase commuter rail service between New York & New Jersey would have been a great addition to the region’s transportation network.

Fast forward to today where New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg & Robert Menendez along with Amtrak are expected to announced a new commuter tunnel project similar to ARC, that would be called “Gateway”. Mike Frassinelli of The Star-Ledger has more:

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, representatives for U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez said tonight.

Detractors referred to ARC as the “tunnel to Macy’s basement” for its proximity to the landmark department store and supposed lack of connectivity to other transit hubs in Manhattan. 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.

“I’m in my late 60s, and I was just hoping and praying I’d see the day when there would be another Hudson River tunnel,” New Jersey transportation expert Martin E. Robins said. “My hopes have been rekindled.”

Many hurdles will have to be overcome, including finding federal and local funding for a project that could cost upwards of $10 billion. But 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.

Click here for the complete report.

On one hand, I am glad to hear about plans for improving our region’s transportation infrastructure & network. However on the other hand, I have some concerns over this project. The ARC project was not perfect but it did increase the amount of New Jersey Transit trains by a decent amount per hour. This project would almost cut that in half. The positive I do see is that the length of the tunnel is superior to that of ARC.

I must ask though, should I really get excited for this project? I ask this because where is the money coming from? While Gov. Christie won’t be able to kill this project, the amount of money it will take to complete it is daunting. Hopefully our elected officials can understand how vital of a project this is & find a way to help fund it.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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