McKEONJASEY: NEW TRANS-HUDSON TUNNEL REOPENS GATEWAY TO GROWTH & INVESTMENT OF FEDERAL DOLLARS IN STATE’S INFRASTRUCTURE
Essex County Lawmakers Say Amtrak’s 220 MPH High Speed Rail in Northeast Corridor Would Enhance N.J.’s Regional Competitiveness
(SOUTH ORANGE) Essex County lawmakers John F. McKeon and Mila M. Jasey announced that the new $13.5 billion Trans-Hudson tunnel called the “Gateway Project” for which plans were revealed at a news conference Monday by Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) and Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken), reopens a gateway to growth for New Jersey and puts job creation in construction and related industries back on track.
The Amtrak project will include building two commuter rail tunnels from New Jersey to New York by 2020 that would follow approximately the nine-mile path from Secaucus to New York City that had been proposed for the derailed $9.7 billion Access to the Region’s Core (ARC).
The new Trans-Hudson tunnel would allow NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak to increase commuter rail capacity 65 percent during peak hours by adding 13 NJ TRANSIT trains (increasing the number from 20 to 33,) and eight Amtrak trains per hour, respectively, into New York. The Gateway tunnels would connect to an expanded Penn Station in New York with seven additional tracks, increasing intercity and high-speed rail access in the northeast corridor.
“This project reopens a gateway to growth for our state which suffered a severe setback from the derailing of ARC,” McKeon (D-Essex) said. “By significantly reducing congestion and commuting time and taking thousands of cars off the road, the proposed rail project would enhance New Jersey’s regional competitiveness and attract more business to our state while reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.”
“I commend Senators Lautenberg and Menendez as well as the leadership of Amtrak for moving forward to invest in New Jersey’s long-term economic growth and sustainability with the planned expansion and technological improvement of our mass transportation system,” McKeon added.
The existing 100-year-old rail tunnels into midtown Manhattan are already operating at capacity during rush hour, and ridership is expected to double in the next two decades. Two out of every three travelers through the region passes through New York. Used by more than 550,000 people a day, Penn station is operating at capacity and demand is expected to double in the next 20 years.
“By helping green light this alternative infrastructure project, Senators Lautenberg and Menendez are ensuring that we put New Jersey’s economic development and job creation back on track,” Jasey (D-Essex) said. “The involvement of Amtrak will bring 220 miles-per-hour high-speed service to the northeast corridor, thus expanding intercity and high-speed rail in the region and substantially reducing commuting time on certain routes.”
“This project will also increase property values and bring much-needed federal dollars into our state. New Jersey receives one of the lowest returns of any state in the nation for every dollar we send to Washington. We took a major hit by losing the $3 billion in federal funding and matching funds from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the ARC project. The new tunnel project reopens a gateway for the investment of federal dollars in our state’s infrastructure development,” Jasey added.
The cancellation of the ARC tunnel by Gov. Christie is estimated to have cost the state thousands of jobs, including more than 6,000 in the construction industry. In 2007, construction spending accounted for $33 billion, that’s 7 percent of the state’s gross domestic product but that is estimated to drop by more than $5.5 billion in 2011. With the cancellation of ARC, that decline was projected to be even sharper. The new Trans-Hudson tunnel will help stimulate New Jersey’s construction and related industries.
Amtrak’s plan also calls for replacing a 100-year-old Portal bridge over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus.
Amtrak board member Anthony Coscia announced at Monday’s news conference that the rail corporation proposes to spend $50 million to begin preliminary engineering and design on two new rail tunnels from New Jersey to New York City. Amtrak will also take the lead in finding other funding sources. Possible contributors include the states of New York and New Jersey, New York City, NJ TRANSIT, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as private investors.
John F. McKeon serves as Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Chairman. Mila M. Jasey serves as Vice Chair of the Assembly Housing & Local Govt. Committee.