Commuters and travelers who cross the Hudson River by transit into New York City hope a just-finished track upgrade at Penn Station will improve recent delays, derailments and other malfunctions. But transportation officials and politicians know the region needs long-term solutions for an aging and inadequate transit system. The Regional Plan Association, a research and advocacy group, is calling for faster action on several previously floated proposals.
Topping its list, announced on Aug. 16, is to accelerate the Gateway Project, a planned expansion of the Northeast Corridor rail line between Newark, N.J., and Manhattan that would include a new Hudson River tunnel. The project was canceled several years ago by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who claimed the state would have to make up cost overruns. He leaves office in January.
Now estimated to cost $24 billion, Gateway is likely to include private-sector financing. The project developer last month hired Francis Sacr, who led infrastructure finance for French bank Société Generale as interim chief financial officer, said Reuters. The project also seeks ideas from firms by Sept. 15 on funding, construction approach and risk allocation. The association also wants Gateway extended through Manhattan to link to a Long Island Railroad yard in Queens as well as an enlarged Penn Station.
Further, the association wants a second bus station built under the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, along with some renovation of the current Port Authority Bus Terminal, as a less expensive alternative to that facility’s now-planned $10-billion replacement. But New Jersey lawmakers say the new terminal would not connect to Eighth Avenue subway lines and could require new property condemnation, says an NJ.com report. Association President Tom Wright said that “the transportation crisis … demands that all relevant stakeholders work together to implement this comprehensive plan.”