There was a lot of excitement yesterday when news broke that the Bloomberg administration is floating an idea to extend the 7 line all the way to Secaucus. Perhaps none were more excited than Steve Lanset—who created a website five years ago calling for just such an extension. (That's his design you see here.) "We were not greeted with open arms and great enthusiasm over this idea," Lanset tells the Times, while his collaborator, Ralph Braskett, says, "I received abuse from N.J. Transit, I received abuse from the rail nuts. They’d tell me I’m crazy." Well, he may not be mad, but the MTA and other officials seem to think the idea is a little loco.
Though it's currently guesstimated that the project would cost around $5 billion—half what the abandoned ARC tunnel project would have cost—the MTA isn't exactly rolling in it these days, as you might have noticed. And the Authority is already sinking vast sums into other mega-projects like the Second Avenue subway and the 7 train extension to 11th Avenue. "Right now we have three mega-projects under way which is the first time we've had this in a generation," MTA chief Jay Walder pooh-poohed yesterday.
And officials say you can forget about the $3 billion in federal funds that would have been allocated for the killed rail tunnel. "The $3 billion has disappeared," Jeff Zupan, senior transportation fellow at the Regional Plan Association, tells the Daily News. "They're not going to turn around and say, 'okay, you have a better idea now, we'll give you the money.' It's not going to happen." Wait, is this the same Jeff Zupan who also told the Journal yesterday, "This is not an unreasonable idea in the absence of ARC. It shouldn't be just dismissed as somebody came up with a harebrained idea." We like the dreamy-eyed Zupan better than the cold-eyed cynic Zupan!
The Bloomberg administration's very preliminary "plan" argues that the project is justified by growth in midtown's office market, a population spike in northern New Jersey and increased strain on Penn Station. And if it ever happened, Jersey connection could be a boon for nightlife in Long Island City, which would be just five subway stops away from Jersey—and thus poised to become the Meatpacking District east! "Obviously, anything we can do for another transit connection is exciting, but the devil's in the details," James Simpson, the New Jersey transportation commissioner, tells the Journal. "I think it's a grand idea, but it would be nice if somebody from New York called New Jersey and let us know, if people are serious about a project like this." Honestly, would it kill you to pick up the phone, Bloomberg?