Monday, June 8, 2009

Some dig the new Hudson tunnel; Some don't

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and a host of other state and regional politicians were expected to be on hand today to mark the ceremonial start of construction on a third tunnel under the Hudson River.

The $8.7 billion project, scheduled for completion in 2017, should not only relieve crowding on work-day commuter trains between northern Jersey and Manhattan, but also to permit an exponential expansion in direct rail routes and doubling of commuter rail capacity.

The project has lots of political and, of course, construction-union support, and it captured an editorial 'dig on' from The Star-Ledger.

Environmentalists, too, must applaud this classic "mass transit" approach to getting commuters out of their polluting cars. Right?

Well, not exactly...

The New Jersey Sierra Club says the concept is great but the execution is horrible.

In a news release coinciding with today's ceremony, the Sierrans's plaint is:

"Instead of developing regional transportation network, all we got was a tunnel to Macy's Basement."

The release continues:

"The tunnel in its current alignment misses the four major objectives the ARC tunnel was set out to do in the first place. The purpose of the tunnel was to give New Jersey commuters access to the Grand Central Station and the East Side of Manhattan, create a backup tunnel for Amtrak that would service Penn Station or the new Moynihan Station, and enable trains to travel from one area of the metropolitan region to another. This would allow New Jersey passengers to have easy access to the Long Island Railroad, for example. "

NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel contends:

"The tunnel doesn't meet any of the major goals other than the fact that we'll have another tunnel," Tittel said. "Instead of connecting to Penn Station or the new Moynihan Station, the tunnel dead ends 180 feet below the ground, two blocks from Penn Station. It cannot even be expanded to the east because it dead ends at a water tunnel."

Is there another side to the story? We invite you to tell us about it...or to add to the Sierra Club's critique.

In either case, use the comment box below, if available, or click on the tiny 'comments' line to open one up.

The tunnel project is just one of many important environmental and political stories in today's EnviroPolitics. Interested in seeing them all ? Just click on the link below and...

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Added at 9:24 p.m. on June 8, 2009
N.J. breaks ground on Hudson River tunnel project

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