Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NARP: Rethink Hudson River Tunnel Plan

NJ Transit's $8.7 billion "Access to the Region's Core" (ARC) project to build two new railroad tunnels under the Hudson River and a new terminal adjacent to Pennsylvania Station will greatly expand regional rail capacity between New Jersey and New York City. However, the National Association of Railroad Passengers thinks the agency can do more with less.

In a news release issued today, it urged that the tunnels serve the existing Penn Station "as much of the public assumes common sense would dictate" and called for greater through running of trains between New Jersey and Long Island.
"These tunnels and this connection will provide much needed additional capacity between New Jersey and New York’s Penn Station. They are essential for future expansion of both regional rail service within the metropolitan area and intercity passenger trains along the entire Northeast Corridor."
The proposed new NJ Transit station, to be built 175 feet below W. 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan is a non-starter for NARP.
"It does not permit connecting the new tunnels with Penn Station, adds a serious security risk, and would cost up to $3 billion more than the direct track connection...It would add four to five minutes per trip in each direction for many Jersey-Manhattan commuters and would be especially inconvenient for passengers transferring to or from Penn Station."
NARP called on New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine to join with New York Gov. David Paterson "and request that NJ Transit and MTA work together to develop quickly a full service plan for through running," which it maintains will increase capacity at Penn Station. It also urged the Obama Administration to "exercise its constitutional obligation to advance interstate commerce" by pushing for the direct connection, which it maintains could be completed faster than the current plan.
"NJ Transit, the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York (PANYNJ) and the MTA can revise quickly the environmental documents based on the work completed in the DEIS and make key parts of this project “shovel-ready” within 90 to 180 days."
The controversy over the new tunnel stems, in part, from the difficulty in getting states to cooperate. NARP notes that NJ Transit opted for the separate terminal after New York declined to support the project when George Pataki was Governor. Now, Gov. Paterson is singing a somwhat different tune.


  1. all plans still leave nj commuters on the west side of manhattan 2 subway trains from grand central. at a minimum any new tunnel should be double decked (like the 63rd street/lirr tunnel) with the #7 on one level providing access to the eat side and beyond.

  2. It looks like New Jersey's lingering peevishness over Pataki's short-sightedly placing Penn Station off-limits to the new under-Hudson connection will doom a cheaper, needed for wider use, more practical tie-in. Infrastructure probs blocking it? Nonsense.