[Update Below] A direct MTA subway connection to New Jersey has been mankind's greatest dream ever since the founding bros first glimpsed the glory of the Meatpacking District from Hoboken. Now, rumor has it, Mayor Bloomberg is moving heaven and earth to make the dream a reality before the end of his third (and final?) term. You'll recall that the Bloomberg administration gave a quarter-million dollar no-bid contract to an engineering firm to study the feasibility of extending the 7 line to Secaucus. Now sources tell the Post that Bloomberg wants to get the project moving before he leaves office.

“This is a really good project,” one source involved in the planning tells the tabloid. “The mayor wants this. And it’s a heck of a lot better” than the NJ Transit tunnel project that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie killed last year. Analysts believe the extension could spur development on the west side, and Bloomberg spokeswoman Julie Wood says, "Since we began exploring this idea, we continue to think it has a lot of potential as a way to cost-effectively improve regional transportation and also create thousands of jobs."

Initial estimates peg the project's potential cost as somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion, which would be split among the city, the Port Authority, New Jersey, and a tax on Ed Hardy.

UPDATE: At a press conference this morning, Mayor Bloomberg was asked about the extension, and told reporters:

Governor Christie had to make a decision on the other tunnel, and he decided not to go ahead with it. And I don’t know the economics. That was Governor Christie’s decision, and he obviously thought it was the right thing to do, and I respect that.

But we want better transportation from here to all the markets, all of the places that people live that want to come into this city to work and to shop and, you know, have their entertainment here and that sort of thing. This is something where the economics seem to make some sense. The subway extension is on budget, on time pretty much, coming down the West Side, and you could probably continue it over.

There are some economic arguments that it would be justified and that we could work with New Jersey and the Federal government and the State government here to get some money to do it. So it’s- you know, you’d like all these tunnels. We’d like to have tunnels everyplace - reduce congestion and how to get in the city and get more people to come in.

Pressed for details, Bloomberg demurred, saying the project was still in its infancy, but he did take the opportunity to bust out some classic congestion-pricing humor. "Yesterday I was with Ed Rendell," Bloomberg said, "And he talked about delays at a tunnel or a bridge crossing 45 minutes each way each day, and he did the calculation, it was you know ten days a year of your life a commuter spent sitting there, and wouldn’t it be worthwhile solving that problem. And then, you know—somebody a long time ago had an idea what we should do is give a disincentive to cars and use that money to enhance mass transit, and I don’t know where that came from."