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Will N.Y.-N.J. Summit Kickstart America's Most Important Rail Project?

Peter Rogoff, the acting undersecretary of transportation, urged New York and New Jersey to agree to plans to advance Amtrak Gateway, the $15 billion Hudson River tunnels which he called the most important rail project in the country.
June 22, 2015, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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In addition to securing funds, the two states need to agree to a plan to replace the twin, aging 105-year-old tunnels under the Hudson River that Amtrak and NJ Transit use to access New York's Penn Station, no easy task since Gov. Chris Christie canceled the prior plan known as Access to the Region's Core (ARC) in October 2010. 

hudson rail tunnels

Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation

At the May 9 summit, organized by the Regional Plan Association and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey"a top official from the Obama administration called Amtrak's proposed Gateway tunnel between northern New Jersey and Manhattan 'the most important rail project in the United States,'" writes Meir Rinde for NJ Spotlight. 

Peter Rogoff, the acting undersecretary of transportation, said the two states must act immediately to advance a plan, sparking attendees’ hopes that the highly complex, expensive, long-stalled project might finally get underway.

Some conference participants mused about creating a new organization or coalition that could carry the project forward for the decade it would take to design and bore two new tunnels, expand Penn Station, replace the obsolete Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River, and build out other connected infrastructure.

The fate of the ARC project showed the risk in having a local agency run a huge project of national interest, so the federal rail system’s involvement is an encouraging sign, said Thomas Wright, president of the Regional Plan Association.

Wright goes on to pitch for a stronger role to be played by Amtrak. Of course, this was just a few days prior to the disastrous Philadelphia derailment that left eight dead, casting some doubt on the rail system's operation.

Rogoff stressed that local stakeholders must figure out a plan quickly, given that Obama leaves office in fewer than 20 months," concludes Rinde. "Agencies are already discussing how they will work together, Wright said."

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Published on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in NJ Spotlight
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