on Sat Apr 28 04:44:49 2012
Yup; the 30-mph crawl is back up from the dead for now.
Amtrak's Gateway proposal includes 'Bergen Loop' to N.Y.C.
Tuesday April 24, 2012, 9:32 PM Bergen and Passaic county commuters could have a direct ride into New York if Amtrak’s proposed Gateway project is built, an official said Tuesday.
BY KAREN ROUSE
Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole, citing an April 12 PowerPoint presentation, said Amtrak’s plan to build a pair of rail tunnels under the Hudson River to connect North Jersey with New York includes a “Bergen Loop option.”
He said that would allow trains carrying commuters on NJ Transit’s Pascack Valley and Main-Bergen lines to link into the Northeast Corridor to New York
Those lines don’t directly feed into the corridor; as a result, commuters transfer at Secaucus or Hoboken.
Cole said the option to construct a loop wasn’t in the original proposal. The project is now estimated to cost $14.5 billion.
“It was not in the initial documentation because we had not had a chance to formally sit down with NJ Transit from day one so we didn’t’ feel [it was] appropriate to go out publicly with that,” said Cole. “In public documentation, [there was] not a mention of a one-seat ride, but it’s always been part of Amtrak’s conceptual design.”
But NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. declined to talk specifically about any conversations with Amtrak about Gateway.
NJ Transit called for further study. “A new component to a project that’s been in the public eye for more than a year clearly deserves further study and analysis,” Durso said. “I’m talking about this proposed loop they’re now choosing to highlight.”
Durso said NJ Transit is talking to all interested parties about options for the cross-Hudson commute.
Amtrak introduced the Gateway project in February 2011, four months after Governor Christie — citing cost overruns — canceled an NJ Transit tunnel project known as Access to the Region’s Core, or ARC.
ARC included a rail loop in Secaucus that would have allowed commuters from Bergen and Passaic counties to board at their local stations and travel along a track that looped into the Northeast Corridor. When Christie killed ARC, supporters lamented the loss of the direct ride.
Martin Robins, director emeritus of the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, said the loop is a touchy subject because the cost would be a burden for the party that has to pay for it.
Cole said on Tuesday that the only party to benefit from a Bergen loop would be NJ Transit, not Amtrak. “How this portion of the project would be constructed and funded is still to be determined, and is part of our ongoing discussions with NJ Transit.”