Last month Bob Diamond told us he was aiming to start up the Atlantic Avenue tunnel tours again in August—and since it's August, we checked in with him this week to see if things were progressing on his end. A little background: the tunnel was shut down late last year, 30 years after Diamond rediscovered it—and it's never been a stranger to red tape.
We've reached out to the FDNY and the Department of Transportation, sending them what you'll read below, to get their side of the story—the FDNY had no further comment (in the past they've been concerned with the safety issues in the small underground tunnel), and the DoT have yet to respond. So for now, here's how the situation looks from where Diamond's sitting.
The tunnel tours were going to be started up again in August. What happened to that? Back, in early June, we filed the detailed engineering plans for enlarging the tunnel entrance system, plans created and sealed by a licensed professional civil engineer, as per DOT's written request of May 3rd, 2001. We also answered certain written questions posed to us, regarding the tunnel tour. The DOT simply ignored our submission, and refuses to make any comment, as to whether they feel our plans are satisfactory, or need in their opinion, some modification. In other words, DOT is literally hiding from the" tunnel issue" they themselves created eight months ago.
Will the tunnel ever be opened to public again? Yes, I'm certain it will be open again eventually, either when the entire Bloomburg administration leaves office in only 18 months, and the new Mayor appoints his own Commissioners and other agency managers, or if the current Mayor took an active interest in the tunnel project. Another possibility, is the the Federal Courts may order DOT to reinstate the tunnel tours, but this method will take at least a couple of years to wend its way through the Federal Court system to trial. We're going to be filing suit against the DOT in Federal Court very shortly.
What's the short story about why it wouldn't open again? The main obstacle, is that the current DOT Commissioner Sadik Khan, has no control over the middle management in her agency, nor does she want control. I think bike lanes are a great innovation, but its become an almost monomaniacal obsession of herself, and her agency, to the complete exclusion of anything else transportation related.
Is there a way to safely open the tours back up? Yes, the tunnels tours could be immediately restarted, as it was before DOT's and FDNY's "hysteria attack." The tours ran undisturbed for the past 30 years, without incident of any kind. An alternative, would be the DOT immediately issuing us the necessary Work Permits to improve the tunnel access, as per our plan filed with DOT over two months ago. We currently have the money in hand, to carry out the entrance improvement work we proposed in our June submission to DOT. DOT just won't answer us!
Will the National Geographic program ever air? What kind of footage did they get so far? Earlier today, the show's Director told me Nat Geo TV isn't going anywhere, and they are awaiting a resolution to the artificially created DOT debacle. Nat Geo already has on film, the tunnel tour, an extensive interview with myself and others, and most important, the cesium vapor magnetometer images of the locomotive buried 11 feet under Atlantic Avenue.