NJ Lawmakers to Review ‘Summer of Hell’ Rail Work

An NJ Transit train. Alyana Alfaro for Obsever.

The joint legislative committee overseeing the ongoing repairs to rail lines –which are predicted to delay travel times into and out of New York City for train commuters through the end of summer– will hold a hearing on Wednesday to review the progress of the repairs and assess NJ Transit operations in light of service changes.

The joint hearing tomorrow by the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee will feature testimony from Amtrak, PATH and New York Waterway officials. In addition to the scheduled rail changes, witnesses will also discus recent service cancellations caused by a shortage of engineers.

The co-chairs of the joint committee — Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Morris) and state Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) — say that the ongoing rail repairs point to the need to invest in transportation infrastructure. They are pushing for immediate authorization of funding for a new sub-Hudson rail tunnel known as the Gateway project and for immediate repairs to the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River.

Critics of Gov. Chris Christie point to his 2010 decision to halt the construction of the sub-Hudson ARC tunnel as a reason that the state’s current transportation infrastructure has no real improvement on the immediate horizon. If he had gone ahead with the project, early estimates say that the tunnel would be nearing completion provided that there had been no delays. Even if the new tunnel is approved, it will still take years to complete, meaning that New Jersey commuters will shuffle into New York on the same near-capacity rail lines for years to come.

Wednesday’s hearing will be held on the tenth day of what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo christened the “summer of hell” for commuters due to the ongoing service work and changes.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. at the New Jersey State House in Trenton.

NJ Lawmakers to Review ‘Summer of Hell’ Rail Work