Transportation

New Trans-Hudson Rail Tunnel Gaining Steam?

May 12, 2015
By Marc Bussanich 

New York, NY—It seems that a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel is gaining steam, as Amtrak recently announced it is advancing $300 million towards the project and the chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced at a recent transportation conference that the authority is committed to funding and building the project. 

The authority’s vice chairman, Scott Rechler, who spoke at the Association for a Better New York breakfast at the New York Hilton on Tuesday morning, said he believes that the sale of some of the authority’s real estate assets could help fund some urgent infrastructure projects.

For example, when the Port Authority announced in March that it would cost about $10 billion to build a new bus terminal to replace the current one on the West Side built in the 1950s there was an outcry over the cost. Some have said that it would be cheaper to build a bus terminal in New Jersey where passengers could then hop on a train to Midtown.

That idea is one that Mr. Rechler supports. 

During his presentation on Tuesday morning, he said he prefers building a new bus terminal in New Jersey that could be linked to a new trans-Hudson rail line such as the Gateway Project that Amtrak proposed in February 2011 after Governor Chris Christie cancelled the Access to the Region’s Core project.

The benefit of building a new bus terminal in New Jersey rather than on the current site on the West Side could be the sale of precious real estate by which the Port Authority uses the proceeds to build both the bus terminal and rail tunnel.

Indeed, Mr. Rechler told NJ.com in March that the authority has to look at both projects holistically.

“We shouldn’t ignore the fact that we’ve got two problems to solve and we shouldn’t ignore a solution that solves both.” He also told NJ.com that he believes that the agency could sell or lease the current site for more money than it would make through the sale of air rights if it were to build a new bus terminal at the current site.

With growing calls for the Port Authority to build the new tunnel, especially from New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, Mr. Rechler said in the accompanying video that funding will be a multi-pronged effort.

“The funding of this tunnel can’t fall on any one [organization’s] shoulders. We need federal support and we need the state, the Port Authority and NJ Transit to think about the role they can play. If we can think of the tunnel and the terminal [together] and the whole trans-Hudson problem—a $30 billion challenge—there’s got to be ways we can refine that cost down and create some efficiencies,” said Rechler.

@marcbuss marc@laborpress.org

May 12, 2015

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