Rain tunnel talks rekindle, many hurdles linger
With word this week that NJ Transit delays will likely get worse, officials are trying to jump-start a new Hudson River Rail Tunnel.
But, how it gets funded is the $20 billion question.
It was revealed Tuesday that a New Jersey contingent of Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Bob Menendez will meet with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx next week to discuss the project and funding.
New Jersey, New York, government, and rail officials all agree a new tunnel under the Hudson River is essential.
What they cannot get close to the same page on is how to fund the project, which is expected to cost more than $20 billion.
Transportation officials have been complaining for years that the existing Hudson River rail crossing, built in 1901 and now used by 450 trains per day, is an atrocious bottleneck, increasingly prone to breakdowns due to old age.
Both tubes of the existing tunnel flooded with saltwater during Superstorm Sandy, causing damage and accelerating corrosion. Officials have been warning lately that the tunnel's two tubes will each need to be taken out of service sometime in the years ahead for a total overhaul.
The feared fallout has surfaced over the last few weeks when two of the four cables that power the tunnel failed. The outage crippled rail service on New Jersey Transit for several days.
Just this week, Amtrak officials warned that similar service interruptions are likely in the future, and could be potentially be even worse.
The vital issue has led officials to scramble to address the issue.
In addition to the staggering price tag, another major concern is the amount of time for construction. Some experts estimate the project could take up to a decade to complete.
That leaves a huge swath of time for commuters to deal with deteriorating conditions and more potential, crippling delays while the new tunnel is built.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.