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 McGreevey renews push for third rail tunnel linking New Jersey, Manhattan

The Associated Press 5/12/2004, 6:29 a.m. ET

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. James E. McGreevey has renewed calls for a third rail tunnel that would link New Jersey to Manhattan, a $5 billion project that has been stalled for more than a decade.

McGreevey says the project, known as Access to the Region's Core, is vital to New Jersey's economy. He also cites the pressing need to increase the region's rail capacity, noting that New Jersey Transit's ridership is expected to double to nearly 100,000 rush-hour passengers by 2015.

"This (project) is critically tied to our economic expansion," McGreevey told The Star-Ledger of Newark. "This represents our lifeblood."

Officials hope that work on a tunnel with two tubes will start in 2007 and be completed by 2014. One tube could be completed as early as 2011, providing extra capacity if New York lands the 2012 Olympics.

NJ Transit now uses two century-old tunnels with one track each near the Lincoln Tunnel to carry some 118,000 passengers each day, including 43,000 who go to the Midtown area at peak hours. Those tunnels are owned by Amtrak, which has priority use.

Plans for a new tunnel — which would be built near the Lincoln Tunnel — were first broached in the 1920s. The proposal has stalled in recent years amid times of tepid interest and the state's financial woes, and only $5 million has been appropriated so far, for an environmental impact study that is scheduled to be finished in the summer of 2005.

Officials will ask the federal government for $2 billion to help pay for the project, and the Port Authority has been asked about a $1 billion commitment. The remainder of the funding likely would be sought from state sources.

The proposal also is being driven by New York state's aggressive pursuit of more than half a dozen big projects in Manhattan and the outlying city boroughs. McGreevey says he has discussed the tunnel with New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but so far they have only given conditional support for the project.

"Our argument is that ARC is critical for both states," McGreevey said.

http://www.nj.com/newsflash/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-8/108435804121120.xml

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