Left for dead not months ago, the proposed trans-Hudson ARC tunnel is all the rage these days. Last week came word that NYC was dropping a quarter-million bucks to investigate further the idea of extending the 7 line to Secaucus and today the two senators from Jersey are breaking with Governor Christie and announcing another proposal to get more rails running from Jersey into the Empire State.
Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez are scheduled to announce the plan, dubbed "Gateway," in a few moments at Penn Station in Newark with Joseph Boardman, CEO of Amtrak, and Anthony R. Coscia, former chairman of the Port Authority. We haven't gotten our hands on it yet, but from what we understand their plan would be to replace the ARC commuter-rail tunnel that was already begun with a slightly less ambitious version.
The new tunnel would have less capacity than the old ARC but would also theoretically end up slightly closer to Penn Station (the old plan had derided previously as being a "tunnel to Macy’s basement"). The proposal also includes a plan to raise the Portal Bridge, a major bottleneck between Kearny and Secaucus over the Hackensack River.
What we are most interested in seeing is the price tag on the "Gateway." Initial estimates have it coming in at at upwards of $10 billion, but it is important to note that this would be an Amtrak project, and Obama did just make a big fuss in his State of the Union about wanting to improve America's high-speed rail network. The hope would be to have the Gateway tunnel built and operating in a decade. We also wonder how the Bloomberg folks are going to like having their 7 extension thunder taken by a rehashing of an old project?
So Gateway or 7 extension, it looks like even without Chris Christie's participation another rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey is going to happen eventually. Which is a good thing!