Gateway Project a Chance for Governor Christie to Redeem Himself to NJ Transit Riders and the Region

It took Governor Christie four years, eight months and 26 days to call for additional railway capacity under the Hudson.

The governor caused quite a media frenzy with his recent attention to the need to improve the trans-Hudson rail connection, specifically the Amtrak Gateway Tunnel Project. In fact, he met today with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx to discuss how to fund the $20 billion tunnel plan. The press release issued following the meeting was short on details, leaving much to the imagination.

That Governor Christie has come to the table to discuss building new trans-Hudson rail capacity is good news, but where was he during the last 1,730 days? Why didn’t he call for a meeting with USDOT on October 28, 2010, the day after he killed the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel project? Ridership on the Northeast Corridor has doubled over the last 30 years, and is projected to double again by 2040; clearly the need for new trans-Hudson rail capacity didn’t surface over night. In fact, transportation experts had been planning a new tunnel since at least the early 1990’s.

There were a number of missed opportunities over the years for Governor Christie to stand up for New Jersey commuters. Here are just a few of the big ones:

  • On August 9, 2011, when a New Jersey Transit train derailed right as the train had entered one of the tunnels, stranding 300 passengers and causing massive delays which lasted well into the following day.
  • In October of 2012, when Super Storm Sandy brought NJTransit service to a screeching a halt for three days as the tunnels were inundated with water.
  • In February 2014, when NJ Transit commuters faced record delays, the worst month in 18 years.
  • And in May of the same year, when an Amtrak report indicated that the existing tunnels would need to be shut down within 20 years, reducing trans-Hudson capacity by 75 percent.

Had Christie not cancelled ARC, the project would have been completed by 2017. Now we are looking at a much different timeline: the earliest the two-tunnel Gateway Project could be completed is 2025. Once that day comes, the two existing tunnels would be taken out of service and repaired — a three-year project. So at some point in the late 2020’s, all four tunnels will most likely be in service. The other components of the Gateway Project (Portal Bridge North and South, Penn Station Expansion) could be completed by 2035.

Governor Christie must make a firm commitment to work with the federal government (and hopefully New York Governor Andrew Cuomo) to set the Gateway Project in motion. Discussions are a good start, but they do not build tunnels. Governor Christie has wasted enough time and money already; it’s time to break ground.

2 Comments on "Gateway Project a Chance for Governor Christie to Redeem Himself to NJ Transit Riders and the Region"

  1. Wow, yet even more absurd comments about ARC. Try to remember that ARC was the NJ Transit train to Macy’s Cellar (you know, where the food court is). It would not have had Amtrak, would not have had viable connections to anything, and would have been many billions down the whole for nothing. If you want to be mad at Christie, get it right – he diverted the ARC money to pet projects to keep NJ taxes down instead of diverting it to Gateway.

  2. Norm Gotsadnick | August 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm |

    Christie didn’t kill the ARC. You can hate on him for lots of other reasons, but you are dead wrong there. He didn’t like it but he didn’t kill it.

    http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/08/another_ignorant_and_arrogant_new_yorker_weighs_in_on_arc_mulshine.html

    http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/07/lets_get_donald_trumpto_negotiate_that_tarns-hudso.html

    and Mulshine HATES Chrisite

    Try not lying for a change, especially on a topic about which you are supposedly an expert.

    More Mulshine, maybe you disagree with him but at least he’s honest.

    ADD – LYING OR JUST UNINFORMED?: Much of the news coverage of this issue has been so biased against Christie that I can’t quite figure out whether the reporters really are this bad or they are consciously trying to misrepresent Christie’s actions.

    Take this article on the Politico site:

    “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie unilaterally killed the last funded plan to replace the tunnels, citing fears his state would have to bear the burden of cost overruns. He directed much of the funding for the new tunnel project to road work within his own state.”

    Christie did nothing of the sort. As you can deduce from the column above, the ARC tunnels could not “replace” Amtrak tunnels for the obvious reason that Amtrak could not have used the tunnels Christie canceled.

    This should be obvious to any reporter who bothered to read an Amtrak schedule. Unless you see “Macy’s Basement” on it, you have to realize Amtrak could not use a dead-end station with no link to the Northeast Corridor.

    I have yet to see a single news account that notes Amtrak could not have used the tunnels canceled by Christie. But I’ve seen several saying those tunnels would “replace” the current ones.

    Anyone who did the tiniest bit of research would realize that these tunnels are not and will not ever be replaced under any possible plan. The plan was to build two new tunnels to supplement the current two. Then there would be four tunnels. Nothing would be “replaced.”

    It is absolutely irresponsible to mention the tunnels in the failed ARC project without also mentioning that they could not have been used by the owner of the two aging tunnels, Amtrak.

    This Wall Street Journal article, for example, goes into great detail about the political trouble the ARC cancellation is causing for Christie without mentioning that the ARC tunnels would not have gone to Penn Station and therefore could not have been used by Amtrak. And check this New York Times article in which the cancellation is brought up again with no mention that the tunnels in question would not have solved Amtrak’s problems.

    I’m no fan of Christie, but this is a hatchet job by a lot of people who should know better.

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