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Senators Push for New Rail Tunnel Between NJ, NYC

Wed May 31, 2006 - Northeast Edition
Janet Frankston Lorin - ASSOCIATED PRESS



NEW YORK (AP) Two U.S. senators on May 15 called for federal assistance in the push for a new tunnel under the Hudson River to increase commuter train traffic from New Jersey into Manhattan.

U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said federal approval should be sped up for the first stage of engineering on the proposed Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel (THE Tunnel).

The $6-billion “THE Tunnel” would increase the number of train passengers between New Jersey and Manhattan and help relieve traffic, the senators said.

“We are making a bistate, major effort to push this tunnel, which is good for New York, good for New Jersey, good for jobs and future prosperity and less congestion in the whole metro region,” Schumer said at Penn Station, surrounded by transportation officials from the two states.

Lautenberg said the project, which advocates contend would double rail capacity between the two states over the next two decades, is critical for the region.

“If we continue on the path that we’re on, we’re headed for trouble,” he said.

They also said the project would create jobs and help commuters in New York’s Rockland and Orange counties.

Construction could begin as soon as 2009 and be complete by 2016, said Kris Kolluri, New Jersey’s transportation commissioner.

Earlier this month, the four U.S. senators from New Jersey and New York wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta urging financial backing for the project.

Even though the big-ticket project has support from politicians, it still needs money.

New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said that the state would contribute $500 million for the tunnel. Transportation officials are seeking 50 percent of the $6-billion price tag from the federal government.

Paul Griffo, a spokesman of the Federal Transit Administration, said the agency has been providing NJ Transit guidance about the project and is reviewing the application for preliminary engineering.

NJ Transit would pay approximately $1 million, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would pay an additional $1 billion to $2 billion, said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority board. He said the agency’s board hasn’t yet approved the money, but that could done by the end of the year.

As proposed, the tunnel would begin in North Bergen and continue under Union City and Hoboken, extending to a new station under 34th Street in Manhattan between Sixth and Eighth avenues.