Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Hudson River Tunnel delima

This is not going to be easy, and it seems sadly indicative of the maze of difficulties involved in transportation planning.

The Hudson River tunnel is 100 years old, and a total bottleneck. Somehow we had been lulled into beleiving that things were progressing nicely. Ah, but it was not to be. Here is the latest report of a New Jersey officials complaint about the proposed new tube under the Hudson.

Larry Higgs files a detailed report for


A Monmouth County freeholder may be the first public official opposing NJ Transit’s current $8.7 billion plan to build a second Hudson River rail tunnel, which would terminate in a station deep under 34th Street in New York.

In a letter to NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles, Monmouth County Freeholder John D’Amico questioned why the preferred tunnel design bypasses Penn Station in New York, a concern that also has been raised by Amtrak officials. D’Amico sent copies to the governor, the state’s congressional delegation, rail advocates and an agency that oversees spending of federal transportation dollars.

In an interview Tuesday, D’Amico stressed that he supports building a second tunnel to augment two 100-year-old tubes under the Hudson.

“The principal concern is that the proposal, as it stands, eliminated construction of a tunnel to the existing Penn Station, which is essential to provide an alternative in case of a problem with one or both of the 100-year-old tunnels,” D’Amico said. “That is the scariest defect in the proposal put forth.”

D’Amico said he learned about the issue when sitting in as the county representative to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority meeting, where rail advocates brought up their concerns about the tunnel’s deep-station plan. Currently an alternate member to the authority, D’Amico said he’s seeking appointment as county representative to the NJTPA to pursue the issue.

“The National Association of Railroad Passengers and Amtrak have said unless there is a connection via the new tunnel to Penn Station, you don’t have the redundancy you’d need if there is an emergency,” D’Amico said. “Amtrak wouldn’t have a way to get to New York if the old tunnels fail.”

And that says not one word about necessary improvements in capacity.

There is a conflict with existing subway construction and environmental issues. Furthermore, every year of delay adds $300 million to the cost. That is completely non-productive money.

Where was Amtrak? Where was this “activist” board that loves to run the railroad?

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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December 2008


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