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    Yes, a tunnel, but also a PATH tube 

Friday, May 12, 2006

Gov. Jon Corzine is endorsing the vision of New York and New Jersey officials and a contractor's lobbying group that wants to see a new railroad tunnel built linking Manhattan and New Jersey. A tunnel is a good idea, but in our opinion, there should also be another PATH tube.

Plans for a $6 billion Trans-Hudson Express (THE) tunnel was discussed at the annual Governor's Transportation Conference in Trenton. Officials from NJ Transit, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the state Department of Transportation revealed funding schedules and timetables for the project. Philip K. Beachem, president of the highway contractors lobbying group Alliance for Action, kicked off the seminar by announcing a bistate campaign to promote the project with the New York Building Conference.

Using the North Branch rail line from the Northern Valley communities in Bergen County to North Bergen, the new tunnel approach would be through the Meadowlands and under the Palisades and the Hudson River. George Warrington, executive director of NJ Transit, called the tunnel project "the most important project in 100 years."

Granted the project would be beneficial, but the PATH system has proven a major boon to development in Hudson and Essex counties recently and has been a commuting staple for a century.

Port Authority officials admitted that PATH was already over capacity before 9/11, and is nearly back to the turn-of-the-century numbers. Longer trains, modern signal systems, and other gimmicks have already been used to handle the crowding on some of the station platforms during rush hours.

There has been a great deal more development since 9/11; the former World Trade Center site is under reconstruction and promises another boost in PATH commuters in the future. Harrison's redevelopment efforts, including a major soccer stadium, are underway. Newark, with new Mayor Cory Booker, is expected to continue its rebirth, and Jersey City sees no end to its housing construction, even to the point that Mayor Jerramiah Healy is trying to open a new PATH station on the west side of the city.

State officials should not remain short-sighted and ignore the need for a new PATH tube. This newspaper would like to see one promoted with the same zeal as that being given to the suburban-linked tunnel to the Big Apple, but it will settle for a more professional and pragmatic study of the PATH system's needed expansion as a beginning.

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