Wednesday, April 04, 2012

MTA Kills 7 Train Proposal To Secaucus, Leaving Gateway As Only Proposed Cross-Hudson Transit Expansion Project

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota has effectively killed any chance for the 7 Train to be extended to Secaucus. He cites the costs of building out the line and the need to build a maintenance yard in New Jersey.

Lhota has a point - the MTA can barely afford its existing system and is already over budget on existing expansion or renovation projects, including the 7 Line extension to the Javits Center, the Second Avenue Subway that is only funded through completion of the phase 1 stub, and the Fulton Street Transit Hub. It can't afford to take on a major undertaking such as the extension to New Jersey without any funding in place.

New York City isn't ponying up the funds, nor is New York State. New Jersey has been open to the idea, particularly after Gov. Christie killed the abortive ARC tunnel project because cost overruns could run from a conservative $1 billion over budget to $5 billion or more, with New Jersey taxpayers on the hook for any overages, but the real transit expansion option is the Gateway tunnel project.

That's not funded to any degree worth speaking about. It barely has enough funding to get to keep the name, despite the critical need to eliminate a bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor and to expand high speed rail for Amtrak and NJ Transit traffic. Amtrak would be the lead agency, which makes sense on an interstate project, but funding is caught up in politics and isn't likely to be in place anytime soon.

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