(SOUTH ORANGE) Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey today called on Gov. Christie not to derail the trans-Hudson rail tunnel. The Governor is expected to announce on Friday whether he plans to cancel or continue the largest public works project in the state’s history.
Jasey’s announcement comes on the day advocates delivered giant postcards filled with an estimated 2,000 signatures in support of the tunnel project to the governor’s State House office in Trenton.
With captions like “We need ARC” and “I ride NJ TRANSIT and I vote,” the postcards have signatures from commuters at train stations from around the state including Maplewood, at which Jasey stumped for the rail tunnel on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
“I urge Gov. Christie to green light this landmark infrastructure project that would generate thousands of jobs for New Jersey and New York and stimulate our economy,” Jasey (D-South Orange) said. “By significantly reducing congestion and commuting time as well as improving transportation options, the tunnel would make us more regionally competitive and help attract more business to New Jersey.”
She noted that Washington’s committment to the Tunnel project is the largest in the nation’s history in any mass transit project.
“We already get one of the lowest returns of any state in the nation for every dollar we send to Washington. We cannot afford to lose the $3 billion in federal funding and matching funds from Port Authority, in the event that we abandon this long-term investment in our region,” Jasey added.
Jasey joined volunteer coordinators Mary Barber, a local resident and Whitney Larsen of Environment New Jersey at Maplewood station on Tuesday, Oct. 19 as part of a statewide campaign of leafletting and rallying commuters to sign giant postcards in support of the tunnel project. The other NJ TRANSIT stations at which lawmakers and advocates canvassed for the bi-state tunnel include Newark, Secaucus, New Brunswick, and Princeton Junction.
This was part of a public outreach push organized by representatives of planning and mass transit groups as well as civic and environmental groups including Environment New Jersey. the Tri-State Transportation campaign, New Jersey Future, Regional Plan Association and NJ PIRG.
Originally estimated to cost $8.7 billion, the new twin tracks between Hudson County and New York are more likely to come in at $11 billion or upto $14 billion according to the governor, who says he does not want it to cost taxpayers anymore than New Jersey’s $2.7 billion committment to the project.
Friday, Oct. 22 ends the two-week window provided by Gov. Christie to allow officials from the state and federal departments of transportation to review details of the tunnel. This reprieve followed his meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood who flew up from Washington D.C. to Trenton on Oct. 9 to persuade him to reconsider his decision to cancel the project. Christie made an announcement to scrap the bistate tunnel because of cost overruns at a news conference the day before.
Proponents say the rail tunnel, which would add a second pair of train tracks starting from Secaucus and ending at a new train station to be built in mid-town Manhattan under Macy’s on 34th street, would double NJ TRANSIT’s morning peak capacity into New York to 90,000 passengers.
Environmentalists emphasize that Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) will take 20,000 cars off the road by the time of its planned completion in 2018 while representatives of labor unions and builders’ associations point out it will create an estimated 6,000 construction jobs.