Officials promise to work together on Hudson River tunnels

An NJ Transit train broke down on the Amtrak line under the Hudson River at 7 a.m., and a Cadillac Escalade caught fire inside the Lincoln Tunnel, closing both tunnels for more than an hour and causing major delays for buses and trains throughout the state.

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But at this point, the light at the end of the tunnel for commuters is just a dot.

Gov. Chris Christie and the state’s Senate delegation are scheduled to meet with state and federal transportation officials on Tuesday morning to discuss the urgent need to plan, fund and build new Hudson River rail tunnels.

That would bring the daily commute to a crawl. New tunnels would ease rail service during the repairs and provide more efficient service after. Let’s take a look back at what’s been going on with the project, shall we? “We’ll be scrambling to adapt to an untenable situation where there aren’t any good options”. Discussions are a good start, but they do not build tunnels. He said the project won’t work unless Washington commits a sizeable investment.

In 2010, Christie tanked a tunnel plan called ARC over funding fears. The hope is that such an entity will be able to tap into a wider range of programs for federal funding and help break the logjam of hesitant governors and unwilling government officials that has stalled Gateway.

In testimony to New Jersey lawmakers last week, a representative for Amtrak, the national passenger rail operator, said the delays would likely increase until the tunnels were renovated.

A mess of train delays in late July reignited conversation about the dire need for a new trans-Hudson tunnel between New York City and New Jersey, and in late summer when news is as slow as molasses, updates to its funding-or lack thereof-seem to be the only things coming across the wire this month.

Cuomo’s tunnel stance is a departure for a governor who has seemed to revel in taking on big infrastructure projects.

“It’s not my tunnel”, Cuomo said yesterday. Private airlines will cover roughly half of the cost of the new LaGuardia.

The new tunnel is seen as key for ending bi-state commuter woes. “I write to urge immediate action and to lend my personal engagement to get the Gateway tunnel project on the path to completion as soon as possible”. “Why don’t you pay for it?” he told reporters this past week. The project stalled without financial commitments.

Amtrak wants the federal government to foot 80 percent of Gateway’s cost, with New York, New Jersey and Amtrak paying the rest, according to Stephen Gardner, executive vice president for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor business development.

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Senator Charles Schumer says the non-profit developmental corporation can begin the process of lining up finances for the project. He also vowed to seek federal dollars.

The $14B Gateway tunnel plan would ease traffic on the other bridges and tunnels that run from NYC to New Jersey but would not be completed until 2027 at best