Last week, New Jersey Transit’s board decided to move forward with an environmental study to look into the feasibility of a new train tunnel under the Hudson River. The review, which could take up to three years to complete, is an essential part of the larger plan, which has been a long time coming. This effort comes five years after a previous initiative was axed due to soaring costs. It remains to be seen whether this project will be more affordable, but those involved seem to agree that an environmental review is a good first step.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shut down the previous Hudson River tunnel project because the rising cost was becoming too much for his state to bear. New Jersey and New York had been set to share the financial responsibility for the tunnel, which would connect the two states, but the tab had increased by at least $2.5 billion more than its original price of $8.7 billion. When Christie scrapped the tunnel, he called on backers of the plan to come back with a less costly project.
The new initiative is part of a larger scheme by Amtrak called The Gateway Program, which has backing by governors of both states. Amtrak will foot the bill for the environmental evaluation, while New Jersey Transit will coordinate the efforts. “It’s a long-term project, but somebody has got to start it and New Jersey Transit is taking the lead in that at this particular juncture by doing the environmental report,” said Bruce Meisel, New Jersey Transit’s vice chairman.
Meanwhile, Amtrak will also soon begin preliminary engineering work for the tunnel, and questions remain about who will pay for the project and how much it will cost. Federal transportation secretary Anthony Foxx promised that federal officials would speed up the timeline for permits and would discuss financing options with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Via The New York Times