Transit Agency Chief Rules Out New York-New Jersey Subway. http://t.co/V73fjzeH

April 4, 2012 • Posted by admin in Relevant • • 0 comments  

The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority seemed to douse any hope on Tuesday that a Bloomberg administration proposal to extend the No. 7 subway line to New Jersey might soon materialize, saying that he could not “see this happening in our lifetime.”

The authority’s chairman, Joseph J. Lhota, said the proposal, meant to cure some of the travel delays that plague commuters between New York and New Jersey, was too costly to be carried out.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg started pushing the plan for an extension of the subway line after Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey killed a proposal for a commuter rail tunnel, known as the Access to the Region’s Core, or the ARC tunnel, in 2010.

Extending the No. 7 line to New Jersey seemed attractive at the time because the city was already extending the line to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, about a block from the waterfront; and unlike many major projects, continuing the extension would not require condemning blocks of buildings. The subway extension would have been able to reuse much of the research that had been used for the ARC tunnel.

But Mr. Lhota, who last week successfully secured funding from Albany to continue work on major transportation projects, including the extension of the No. 7 line to 34th Street, was more skeptical. He told guests at a breakfast hosted by the New York Building Congress that he did not see how a further extension would work financially.

“I’ve told the mayor this, I’ve told the deputy mayor this: I can’t see this happening in our lifetime,” he said. “I think the idea of putting a subway system underneath the Hudson River is one that is — the expense of it is beyond anything that we’re doing.”

Mr. Lhota later said that he supported an alternative plan in which Amtrak would build two new tracks beneath the Hudson River. That project would be more dependent on federal spending.

Mr. Lhota’s comments were met with some understanding from regional planners and the mayor himself. Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association, credited Mr. Lhota with closing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s $10 billion budget gap to pay for its capital program, and said Mr. Lhota recognized how unlikely it was for the state to help pay for another big project.

Even Mayor Bloomberg took Mr. Lhota’s comments in stride, saying, “I have great respect for Joe Lhota and he’s a realist.”

But Mr. Lhota’s comments were another setback for regional planners who are trying to address the major bottlenecks the region faces because only two single-track tunnels pass between New York and New Jersey beneath the Hudson. Mr. Yaro said that since 1990, 90 percent of the increase in suburban commuting has come from west of the Hudson.

“We need at least two new tracks soon,” he said. “In the long run we will almost inevitably need to do both of these projects.”

The mayor still held out some hope that the extension would be built.

“Hopefully it happens in somebody’s lifetime,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Those people may not have been born yet whose lifetime it would be.”

 
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