Clearing the Air Over ARC Tunnel

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Regional Plan Association, and New Jersey Future are standing firmly behind the Access to the Region’s Core project to build a new rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan. NJ Transit announced over the weekend that it would suspend all new work on the project for 30 days in order to review the project’s budget. (The review was not prompted by any cost overruns on the ARC project itself, but by delays in New York projects.)

In a letter to the governor, the groups’ executive directors warned that further stalling of ARC “will only lead to higher expenses later.”  They also pointed out that many of the common criticisms of the ARC project “are overstated and in many cases unfounded.”

In an attached factsheet, the groups discussed many of these criticisms. For example, the reason the project does not connect to the east side of Manhattan is because New York City has prohibited construction in the vicinity of the city’s Water Tunnel No. 1 until a backup tunnel is completed in 2020. This problem would not be solved by a different tunnel alignment. The ARC Tunnel can be extended once this backup tunnel goes into operation.

The factsheet addresses which NJ Transit lines will benefit, access to the west and east sides of Manhattan, the depth of the planned tunnel, the terminal location, how the project is funded, and how the project relates to Amtrak. It can be downloaded here.

Amtrak: ARC Tunnel Supports Rail Growth

Critics of the project sometimes claim that Amtrak will not benefit from the new tunnel. Amtrak disagrees, and issued the following statement today:

Amtrak supports the ARC Tunnel because it will create additional commuter rail capacity for future New Jersey Transit and Amtrak growth along the Northeast Corridor. Simply put, more tunnels under the Hudson River must be built if additional commuter trains are to serve New York City.

The ARC Tunnel would free up capacity in the existing NYC-NJ tunnel and allow for increased Amtrak service.

4 Comments on "Clearing the Air Over ARC Tunnel"

  1. Whatever. This is a big win for the GOP – cut spending, starve transit, and wait until a democrat wins the governor’s seat and reinitiates the project – and then howl about the spending, and about the cost overruns. It’s an ingenious plan.

  2. The ARC as currently configured is a boondoggle. Anyone who thinks that New York City will allow construction after 2020 is probably dreaming. Where is there another TERMINAL station at this depth? Has anyone looked at the circuitous route that the new line is taking? Has anyone looked seriously at the assumption that first of its kind in the world locomotive will work (AC electric / diesel combination)? The technology used in the French AGC Multiple Unit sets by Bombardier may or may not scale up and in any case probably is not the same as in the New Jersey Transit / Montreal joint order.

    Instead of solving the issues with joining the new tunnel to the existing Penn Station, this second rate, extremely expensive scheme has come about. Instead of taking the opportunity to come up with ways to to through route trains so that Manhattan storage yards aren’t needed and conflicting moves can be eliminated or severely reduced in the Penn Station area, we add conflicting moves. An East Side joint NJT/LIRR station would give far better benefit than this pig in a poke. We need relief tunnels now and the ARC doesn’t provide them.

  3. Maybe someone grew some sense; this project as currently planned is insane, a multi billion dollar hole in the ground. NJT knows better, and needs to come back with a plan that makes sense both dollar and transportation wise, one that connects to Penn Station properly and doesn’t go to new depths both in rock and in stupidity.

  4. Rail Advocate | September 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm |

    The ARC tunnel, as presently proposed by NJT, does almost nothing to permit growth in intercity passenger rail service along the NEC. The proposed NJT service plan provides for 2 additional Amtrak slots in the a.m. rush hour.

    By not connecting the new tunnels with the existing tunnels there is much less redundancy in the system. This means that on weekends, when Amtrak or NJT is doing maintenance work in the old tunnels, trains serving Penn Station will be forced to use a single track which regularly causes delays.

    In addition, the lack of interconnection will require both NYC stations to operate on weekends, increasing deficits for riders and taxpayers.

    Lastly, the failure to interconnect the new tunnels to Penn Station means that any failure in the old tunnels or a terrorist attack would knock out NEC train servivce through New York along the East Coast.

    A relatively simple change in NJT’s plans would allow new capacity for NJT and for the growth in intercity passenger rail service to upstate New York and along the NEC from New England to the Carolinas.

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