Sunday, August 2, 2015

Off Track

A brief explanation of the problems with the passenger rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey, along with some background:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cancels a passenger rail tunnel under the Hudson River in 2010 because he doesn't want New Jersey to be burdened with cost overruns, killing an already-started infrastructure project slated for completion in 2017.
Then, in early 2011, Amtrak proposes a new Trans-Hudson tunnel called the Gateway Project, which Christie supports . . . right after the Republicans have taken over the U.S. House of Representatives and make it clear that they don't want to give Amtrak any more money.
Four years and no new tunnels later, electrical blackouts and signal problems cause NJ Transit trains to back up and run way, way off schedule.  Christie blames Amtrak, still reeling from the accident in Philadelphia in May 2015, for the delays.
Meanwhile, NJ Transit customers are hit by the double whammy, or one-two punch (or whatever you want to call it), of fare increases and service cuts to balance a budget severely out of whack.  Christie won't support NJ Transit, and he's deflecting all the blame for NJ Transit's and Amtrak's problems from himself.
And Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has to figure out how to get Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on board to get a new rail tunnel built, as it is needed before the wiring and the fuse boxes in the existing tunnels - already damaged by flooding from Hurricane Sandy - fail completely.
And the delays keep happening.  And the tunnel Christie killed back in 2010, the Access to the Region's Core project?  This was as far as it got.  

Meanwhile, the rail gridlock is spilling over to the Lincoln Tunnel, as more people take the bus as an alternative, causing gridlock for buses.
Is it any wonder I don't go in to New York City as often as I used to?

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