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Tunnel vision: New Amtrak NJ proposal

A new proposal unveiled yesterday by Amtrak to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River may put the brakes on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 7 train to New Jersey.

A new proposal unveiled yesterday by Amtrak to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River may put the brakes on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 7 train to New Jersey.

Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, along with New Jersey Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, announced yesterday a plan to build a new Gateway Tunnel, two new tracks allowing more New Jersey Transit and high-speed Amtrak trains into Penn Station.

Less than 48 hours earlier, it was revealed that New York City had directed $250,000 to determining how much it would cost to build a separate tunnel extending the 7 train to the Garden State.

“If I had to predict, I would say Gateway would be a more realistic option,” said one regional transit expert. “First of all you have Amtrak on board. And you have New Jersey behind it, and they’re the one’s who will reap a lot of the benefits.”

“This Amtrak deal seems like it’s the beginning of a better deal,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday of the Gateway plan. Christie axed the ARC tunnel last year, saying it was too expensive.

Still, others want to just stick with Bloomberg’s plan. “Our preference is the No. 7 extension,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “I’d take a $5 billion mountain over a $13.5 billion mountain any day.”

Either project would require money from the MTA, which is already $10 billion short in its 2010-2015 capital budget.

 
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