New Jersey eyes an alternative tunnel project

Amtrak’s involvement could make a second line into New York City a possibility, but funding still a question mark

News The Associated Press February 10, 2011
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The state of New Jersey is on a fast track to find a replacement project for the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel Project. Gov. Chris Christie killed the job due to cost overruns, which his administration estimated were as high as $5 billion.

Amtrak has now jumped on board with a new plan, and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez claim to be behind the revival. The deal would allow Amtrak to have access to the tunnels for high-speed trains. The project’s original footprint will not change much, but new tracks would end right at New York’s Penn Station instead of further north. The high-speed rail demand also would cut into New Jersey transit use, and the construction timeline is two years longer than the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel Project.

The new alternative is not less expensive, either. In fact, it will cost $13.5 billion, approximately $5 billion more than the Trans-Hudson’s original price tag. There is no committed dollars as of yet, but Amtrak has agreed to pay $50 million on a preliminary engineering and design study.

Over the last few days Christie has been trying to take credit for the change in direction, but Lautenberg and Menendez insist the new governor has had nothing to do with the deal.

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