This article appeared in the Washington Square News on October 28, 2010.
Stern freshman Jack Guo commutes to class every day from Cranford, N.J. But most of the time, it’s not a pleasant process.
“The trains are terribly slow,” Guo said. “If [New Jersey Transit] cancels one train, you’re done because the wait can be another hour.”
And it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced yesterday that he was canceling the proposed Hudson River rail tunnel, which would have provided room for 70,000 more New Jersey residents to travel to Manhattan every day.
Christie explained his decision to cancel the so-called Access to the Region’s Core tunnel, which would have been the nation’s largest public transit project, citing the project’s increased costs.
Although the original budget was $8.7 billion, Christie said costs could have increased to $14 billion. The Federal Transit Administration and the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York each pledged $3 billion to the project; New Jersey taxpayers would have had to supply the remaining funds.
However, Zoe Baldwin, an advocate from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said the governor’s office is too focused on the budget.
“Historically, infrastructure has done a good deal to boost economic development,” Baldwin said. “They are looking at this project as a pot of money and not as a needed infrastructure project.”
The Access to the Region’s Core would allow 25 additional trains per hour to enter midtown Manhattan from New Jersey. According to the Regional Plan Association, average commuter time would decrease by about 15 to 30 minutes.
“The tunnel now is at limited capacity, insufficient and over 100 years old,” said Mitchell Moss, professor of urban policy and planning at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. “Having more rails allows you to bring more workers.”
The Regional Plan Association said New Jersey home prices would increase by an accumulated $18 billion if the tunnel was built.
“The residential communities will benefit from the tunnel because it will add to the property value in northern New Jersey,” Moss said.
Additionally, the new tunnel would affect traffic and the environment by taking a projected 22,000 cars off the road every day and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 67,000 tons.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in a statement that Christie’s decision was “irresponsible.”
“Unfortunately he took the easy way out, citing cost overruns,” he stated. “But the hard and daunting task facing elected officials is to complete crucial infrastructure projects, not kill them off.”