Thursday, January 15, 2009

FTA Signs Off on Hudson River Tunnel Project

Although rail advocacy groups fault the plan for its lack of a direct connection to Pennsylvania Station, the Federal Transit Administration has given its blessing to an $8.7 billion project to construct two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River and a new terminal in Midtown Manhattan for NJ Transit. The FTA record of decision, which officially completes the project’s environmental review process, clears the way for federal funding and allowing construction to begin this year.

Port Authority of New Jersey and New York Chairman Anthony Coscia and other officials believe a funding agreement with the federal government will be reached soon, enabling work to begin as soon as this fall. He called the undertaking a "once-in-a-generation kind of project" comparable to the George Washington Bridge.

To date $5.7 billion has been raised toward the project in local funding, including $3 billion from the Port Authority. The project, which is slated for completion in 2017, is expected to double rail capacity between the two states. It will also create a one-seat ride for thousands of commuters from New Jersey and New York who must now change trains at Newark, Hoboken or Secaucus. Undoubedtly, that will increase ridership and shift travel from the buses that now find themselves backed up to enter the Lincoln Tunnel to reach the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

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