Mar
06

Bearing a grudge, Trump throws a wrench into the complicated politics of Gateway

By

Will a Trump-Schumer fight torpedo plans for the Gateway Tunnel?

In some alternate timeline — the one without cost overruns for transit projects and on-time delivery — New Jersey’s ARC tunnel would be opening this year. The plan to add Hudson River capacity for New Jersey Transit involved a deep-bore terminal dead-ending underneath Macy’s and was flawed from the start, but it faced solvable problems that could have been resolved. It was also funded and underway when former Garden State Governor Chris Christie pulled the plug. Although New Jersey transit advocates have convinced themselves that Christie saved the state from a mistake due to the design of ARC, in the intervening eight years, the state spent a lot of money that should have gone to transit on roads, and New Jersey Transit has withered on the vine.

As part of Christie’s ex ante rationale for canceling ARC, he challenged the region’s players to come up with a better plan, and Amtrak eventually settled on the Gateway Tunnel project, a massively costly project that would run from $20-$30 billion and involve new tunnels, new bridges and a new rail station in Manhattan. It would allow for real high-speed rail to pass through Manhattan but wouldn’t connect Penn Station and Grand Central, the Holy Grail of rationalizing New York’s regional rail problem. It was to be funded in part by New York and New Jersey and in part by the feds, but that’s when grudge politics stepped in.

The Washington Post broke the news on Friday: “According to four officials familiar with the discussions, Trump has taken a personal interest in making sure no federal dollars flow to a project that is considered critical to his hometown’s long-term economic prosperity.” That’s right: Despite earlier claims that he would hold up the feds’ end of the funding deal, President Donald Trump has decided he does not want to fund the Gateway Tunnel project.

The Post wasn’t clear on the whys and wherefores. Ted Budd, a North Carolina representative, claimed the issue was tax fairness. “North Carolina and the other 48 states should not have to foot the bill for this hall of fame earmark,” he said. But New York and New Jersey are two of the biggest net contributors to federal coffers, and even $10-$15 billion on Gateway spending wouldn’t begin to even out the northeast’s tax deficit vis-a-vis federal spending.

The Times had more and the motives seem personal:

Mr. Trump’s opposition to the project is in part the result of his belief that it is important to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, according to one person with knowledge of the president’s thinking on the issue. Mr. Trump has told Republicans that it makes no sense to give Mr. Schumer something that he covets — funding for the tunnels — at a time that Mr. Schumer is routinely blocking Mr. Trump’s nominees and other parts of his agenda, the person said.

The move has angered members of Trump’s own party, as The Times subsequently detailed:

Just a few months ago, the idea once again appeared to have gained the support it needed in Washington and, once again, it looks as if one powerful official — in this case, the president — could put a stop to it. The latest and perhaps most ominous threat came late Friday night when it was revealed that President Trump had asked Republican leaders to withdraw federal funding for the project.

Mr. Trump has promised to spur “the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history.” So his opposition to an established project that is widely considered a solution to one of the nation’s most critical infrastructure needs has confounded even veterans of his own party. Some fear that Mr. Trump is jeopardizing commerce along the Eastern Seaboard simply to spite Senator Charles E. Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York. “If the news reports are accurate that he wants to kill it or hold it because he’s mad at Chuck Schumer, that makes no sense,” said Representative Peter King, Republican of Long Island. “This is essential to the national economy as well as the regional economy.”

He said he would not vote for a funding bill that did not include some money for the rail-tunnel project, which is known as Gateway. “I support President Trump on a lot of issues, but on this one he’s wrong,” Mr. King said in an interview on Saturday.

Kathryn Wylde of the Parntership for New York City tried some odd reverse psychology that is bound to have little effect on Trump. “I have no doubt that regardless of what he says, he knows the importance of this project and he does not want it to fail on his watch,” she said, providing no evidence that the president is looking beyond personal grudges or, optimistically, horse-trading. Needless to say, the president doesn’t have a big fan base in the Big Apple and has always flown in and out of New York City. Amtrak Don he is not.

The reaction has been loud and generally in favor of Gateway. Bloomberg News delved into the economics of letting the current tunnels fail, a real reality within the next six to eight years. Gateway, the piece notes, would generate $2.16 in economic activity for every dollar spent, and not to build Gateway while risking a failure of the current tubes could be catastrophic for the country.

Another piece in Crains New York urged planners to go back to the drawing board to reduce the scope. Could a one-tube tunnel for less cost solve the problems? It seems unlikely as tunneling isn’t generally the most expensive part of these projects, and reducing the number of tubes doesn’t equate to a 50% reduction in the costly infrastructure needed for the new rail capacity.

What no one has talked about is cost control. Following the winter’s Times exposes on construction costs, Gateway is primed for an aggressive reform attempt. Were Trump operating in good faith, he would urge New York and New Jersey to tackle the reforms highlighted in the series on the New York region’s cost problems. The feds could make any grant subject to a cap and contingent on cost cutting. Based on standard international multipliers at play in New York City, the entire Gateway project would probably cost around $10 billion in even the most expensive European cities, but our version is going to carry a $20-$30 billion price tag depending upon scope. No one wants to challenge this 800 pound gorilla in the room, and Trump is operating on personal political grudges rather than a good-faith attempt at cost reform.

And so, in a way, we’re having the ARC Tunnel debate all over again. On Saturday, Josh Barro and I engaged in a back-and-forth on Twitter over this very issue. Barro argued that perhaps it’s not bad for the Gateway proponents to try to whittle down the price, and in one sense, he’s not wrong. Gateway shouldn’t be this expensive, and New York and New Jersey should be interested in cost reform so that the dollars they can get go further. But even if the states come back with a more sensible cost proposal, Trump still won’t fund the project; he wants to use this a cudgel to beat Schumer, and everyone in the region, Republicans and Democrats alike, will lose out.

As Chris Christie doesn’t deserve praise for canceling the ARC project for the wrong reasons before later stumbling into a flaw in the chosen route as an excuse, Trump shouldn’t get “credit” for bringing attention to Gateway’s costs. The decision to withhold funds for no good reason is the wrong one; the move to ignore extremely high costs is also the wrong one. But one does not excuse the other. The region needs Gateway, and to get there will require some support from Washington, DC. For now, though, we’ll keep holding our collective breaths over the battle for dollars.



Categories : Gateway Tunnel

126 Responses to “Bearing a grudge, Trump throws a wrench into the complicated politics of Gateway”

  1. Larry Greenfield says:

    There once was a man so vindictive
    His actions were plainly predictive
    They’ll bring calamity
    In place of amity
    For reasons altogether fictive

    • SEAN says:

      You have been challenged Mr. Greenfield. LOL

      We have a president named Trump
      who acts like a total chump
      he comes off as a total dork
      while hating on New York
      and his poll numbers will never get that all important bump

      • Larry Greenfield says:

        Limericks are written in an AABBA rhyming format where A is nine syllables and B is six for a total of 39 syllables.

        • SEAN says:

          let me tell you about a man named Trump
          whose stomach is seriously plump
          I don’t really care
          that he has orange hare
          cause I worry about his thinking bump

          I hope that is better.

        • aestrivex says:

          There once was a man from the internet
          Who was a big nazi regarding limericks
          But other people wrote clever limericks
          That violated the verse structure in various ways
          And nobody cared a great deal

    • SEAN says:

      While trying to build a massive wall
      he tries to come off as Monty Hall
      as an aging boomer
      he’s a really bad consumer
      and for the rest of us… that is all

  2. Subutay Musluoglu says:

    As if things weren’t cynical enough, the PANYNJ recently advertised an RFP for Planning Services to Evaluate Long-Term opportunities for Additional Trans-Hudson Capacity:

    http://www.panynj.gov/business....._52219.pdf

    Reading the workscope, one can be forgiven for thinking he or she has gone back in time to 1993 and is reading the original ARC RFP.

    In all the discussion swirling around Gateway, a key point is being overlooked – there is no net increase in capacity in the short term. The term Gateway refers to the entire program of improvements from Manhattan to Newark. The new tunnels by themselves, around $11-12 Billion in cost, are the only elements that are ready to go at this time, and because they are connecting to the existing Penn Station New York, there is no gain in track capacity. In fact, when you read the DEIS, the emphasis is placed on redundacy – the ability to take the existing tunnels out of service for rehabilitation, and to respond better to a future Superstorm Sandy repeat or some other cataclysmic event. Only when you factor in the Penn Station South component and all the various improvements that have to happen on the main line between the NJ tunnel portal and Newark Penn Station will there be an increase in the number of people that can travel under the Hudson. For all its other flaws, this is the one key undeniable benefit that ARC offered – having the new tunnels going to a new deep station separate from Penn allowed an additional 24 trains under the river in the peak hour – a 40% increase in capacity. What could have been a reality this year is now a generation or more away in fantasy.

    • Dan says:

      With the Port Authority looking for alternate ways to increase Hudson river capacity, why is it that the PATH tracks are almost never mentioned? The WTC station serves only 50,000 passengers a day, certainly there are ways to eke out extra capacity there. Tying the WTC tunnel into the NJT rail system would be pretty simple, and because of the layout of that terminal (5 unidirectional tracks), there’s plenty of room for trains coming and going. Are people afraid commuters would be mad about having a direct ride into the third largest business district on the continent?

      • BenW says:

        Because the PATH tunnels will only fit trains that are, give or take, IRT length and loading gauge. Connecting them to the Lexington Avenue Local is a technical possibility; connecting them to the NJT Hoboken lines is not.

        • Dan says:

          Technically, that’s true, but the Hudson river tunnels are bored, and have a clearance diameter of 15 feet, and the platforms at WTC could be shaved back. None of NJT’s existing rolling stock would fit, but it would be nothing to build a train that would, with sloped sides like the London Tube. It would just mean that the seats next to the windows would have a bit less headroom.

          • Adirondacker12800 says:

            And the people already using the PATH trains? Get a kayak and paddle across the Hudson?

            • Dan says:

              PATH is only at capacity in the way it’s run now, but there’s only like 20 trains per hour going into WTC. If the system were de-interligned and the branches built out from Exchange Place, the TPH could be doubled or tripled.

              • Adirondacker12800 says:

                Every six minutes to and from Hoboken which is ten. Every three to five to and from from Newark which is at least 12. Very very few places run 40 trains an hour. High twenties, considering how fast they run on the long stretches is very respectable.

                • Dan says:

                  It’s not respectable at all. This is New York, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to match our peer cities for at one mile of track.

                  • SEAN says:

                    What do you consider to be respectable.

                    • Dan says:

                      Most of the regional railways in Europe operate 30-40 TPH, so I would say that is respectable. But those numbers are also on mainlines with stations and all, so with proper operations I don’t see why that could be exceeded, if we’re talking about a mile-long tunnel between World Trade and a new 4-track station at Exchange Place (with non-interligned low-frequency branches going throughout NJ).

                  • Adirondacker12800 says:

                    No they don’t

                    • Dan says:

                      A quick google search gets me this:
                      “This means that it will be possible to have up to 28 RER trains per hour in circulation…”

                      https://www.sncf-reseau.fr/en/reportages/nexteo

                      Again, this is with stations.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      28 is somewhat less than 40.
                      10 plus 12 is a minimum of 22 and they run more than that because trains can leave Newark every three minutes. Which means 23. probably more.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Doesn’t signaling play a huge roll in these TPH numbers? Improve the block signaling & you can add frequency to the levels you find desirable.

                    • Dan says:

                      Sean, I believe you’re right. Adirondacker, your math is off. 60 minutes in an hour, every 3 minutes = 20 TPH. Also, that would be (at least) 20 TPH into Exchange Place from both sets of tracks, so go ahead and double that.

                      The London Underground and other metros run every 45 seconds. There’s no significant technical difference between the trains you’d be running in this model versus a metro: the main barrier to running more trains at that point is the need to on/offload passengers, not an issue in what I’m suggesting. So, 4 tracks at 20 TPH each = 40 total.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      The arithmetic is correct. There are trains from Hoboken to the World Trade Center and trains from Newark to the World Trade Center.
                      Every six minutes from Hoboken to the World Trade Center is 10 an hour. Every 5 minutes from Newark to the World trade center is 12 an hour. Though it appears it’s 9 times an hour from Hoboken and 15 times an hour from Newark. 26 an hour passing through Exchange Place.

                      http://www.panynj.gov/path/full-schedules.cfm

                    • Dan says:

                      9 plus 15 is 24, but either way I’m not sure what your point is.

                    • SEAN says:

                      I think his point was throughput at Exchange Place.

                    • Dan says:

                      Well, considering the throughput there, even with the imperfect signal and interligned system that exists, doesn’t it stand to reason that what I’m describing would increase the throughput?

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      What are you guys even arguing about? “TPH” isn’t exactly a metric you can use to make system-to-system comparisons. A light rail system can have hundreds of “trains” (maybe trolleys/single car trams) an hour, with a single platform berthing several a time.

                      A more interesting metric for comparison is passenger throughput.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      That’s what Metro North, the LIRR and NJTransit do. they connect all the cars together into this thing called a train and dump 1,000, 1.500, 2,000 people at time into Manhattan.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      How did you develop this remarkable propensity for non-sequiturs?

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      You are the one who brought up passengers per hour. I’m sorry if you are too dense to figure out if you connect ten really big trolley cars together they can carry ten times as many people as one really big trolley car.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Calm down. Read for comprehension: don’t compare TPH on a system utilizing 4-car trains with TPH on a system that utilizes 10-car trains.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Whose arguing – not me. Just trying to figure out where these threads are going.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      You do want to compare low capacity trolley cars with high capacity trains. The high capacity trains can move more people under the river than trolley cars can.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I don’t want to compare any unlike things. TPH is probably good for internal comparisons when all other things are equal (or at least close, like on the NYC subway), but weak for comparisons between systems.

                      I don’t see why you’d arbitrarily compare a European train throughput for NYC without at least disclaiming the capacity differences, etc..

                      Or even past and present comparisons are icky; pretty sure the BMT sometimes managed close to 60 TPH sometimes, but those trains were short.

  3. Peter L says:

    “Some fear that Mr. Trump is jeopardizing commerce along the Eastern Seaboard simply to spite Senator Charles E. Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York. ”

    Is there anything, anything at all, in Trump’s very public history that would indicate that this is not true?

    (Also, I did not major in English let alone a member of the Professional Organization of English Majors, but those poems are terrible. The meter is all wrong! 😀 )

  4. JJJ says:

    On that map, why is the Gateway Route so much longer? Do we really need the scenic tunnel route into the city?

    • Subutay Musluoglu says:

      The wide curve in the tunnel is for geologic reasons and for lining up with the casement that Amtrak has built under the Hudson Yards development.

  5. Eric F says:

    “Some fear that Mr. Trump is jeopardizing commerce along the Eastern Seaboard simply to spite Senator Charles E. Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York.

    But isn’t it just the opposite? You have 4 senators from NY/NJ essentially calling for Trump’s impeachment. The dean of the four has slowed the work of the Senate to render it nearly impossible to seat agency nominees, even at the FRA! Both the governor of NY and NY’s junior senator are both positioning themselves to run against Trump on 2020. Why would any president gift $30 billion to this crew?

    This same roster of people got nothing out of the last administration but empty promises. This failure to achieve any real progress has not affected their electoral base a whit. It seems inevitable that Gateway will never be built and that the current tunnels will eventually be taken out of service.

    • MDC says:

      It’s interesting that you, like Trump, appear to think of the tunnel as a “gift” to New York politicians that should be withheld to “hurt” them… rather than as what it primarily is: an urgent necessity for millions of people, and for the economies of multiple states, the entire region, and arguably the entire country. Schumer, Gillibrand, Cuomo, etc., do not personally gain from having the tunnel built, or personally lose from having it not built — they are just trying to do something you may find incomprehensible: advocate for the interests of their constituents. But I guess for some people, spite trumps all other considerations.

      • Eric F says:

        I do think that the tunnel and entire project is an urgent necessity. But does the northeast left elite thing so? It doesn’t appear that way. A “priority” is not a priority if no other interest is subordinated to it. I have not seen any funding use dropped to free up money, I have not seen any offer of a traded vote in Congress, really anything that would indicate that the interest groups, politicians and voters in the area care enough to give up something to get this done. Not even a baby step at cost control.

        The irony is, you’d think if you had an intensely pro-rail administration right out of the academic left, coupled with a project that is central to its donor and voter base, you’d get the thing funded and done. And yet, we just had that very dynamic for 8 years, and nothing got done. At some point the transit advocates around here should realize that what gets the left excited are social issues and not really nuts and bolts issues like a tunnel whose failure cuts the northeast corridor in two.

        • Subutay Musluoglu says:

          I seem to recall that the “pro-rail” administration was stymied by the “anti-rail” luddites in Congress. At every turn. And GOP governors proudly and gleefully sent back Federal funds for rail improvements in their states to buck up their anti-progress street cred. Those funds would have paid for local jobs in many of the same depressed counties that voted for Trump, far away from the left elite coasts.

          • Eric F says:

            I don’t think that’s really correct vis a vis the NEC. I would note that Christie specifically appealed for money for Portal Bridge during Obama’s first term and was swatted down. The 2009 stimulus paid for design work for Portal, and the design has been done and gathering dust for years. Portal replacement has now been rolled into Gateway. Gateway’s Penn South is wholly within New York State and has utility even without additional tunnels. Even NY’s pet project of Moynihan Station has really own picked up steam during the past year, not obvious why the feds couldn’t fully fund that. NJT also appealed for funds for key NEC congestion relief projects such as the midline loop, a flyover for the Raritan Valley line, a storage yard in New Brunswick, a new station in the New Brunswick area, etc., and got nowhere with the feds.

            But, ultimately, NJ wholeheartedly endorsed Gateway. Gateway was in large part a response to Hurricane Sandy damage, and that hurricane struck in 2012, prior to the commencement of Obama’s second term.

            • Subutay Musluoglu says:

              I think you are somewhat simplifying or mis-characterizing the NEC situation. Christie did not “appeal” for Portal money. That would have been news. The project had a life before he was Governor, and it was proceeding along quite nicely and ready for construction by the end of 2009. However it was NJT bureaucracy and NJT-Amtrak infighting that slowed things down. Christie’s subsequent cancellation of ARC actually made things worse for Portal, because two separate two track bridges couldn’t be justified if the Manhattan terminal was not clear. The other capacity projects you mention could potentially have been paid for with the PANYNJ “NJ share” that was no longer allocated to ARC, but we all know that went to the Pulaski Skyway instead under very questionable circumstances. At that point the Feds were fighting to get back the New Starts money they had already contributed to ARC, and spent by NJ. They were not in a favorable mood when it came to giving NJ more money, and I think that was justified.

              The fact of the matter is that even if NJ had the money to build all the projects you mention, Christie’s political interference at NJT had left the agency in no shape to manage several important project simultaneously, and then Sandy came along, forcing a change of the agency’s entire focus.

            • AMH says:

              “Gateway’s Penn South is wholly within New York State and has utility even without additional tunnels.”

              I think you’ve got that backward–the Gateway tunnels have immense utility even without additional (worthless) dead-end tracks that would be Penn South.

      • Tim says:

        While I disagree with his thinking, that sort of thinking is how Trump got elected. The whole bits about “Why does NC and 48 other states have to pay for this” is a pervasive mindset in less-enlightened corners of this country.

  6. David Brown says:

    I am with President Trump. Why? Think economics not politics. “It’s not personal it’s just business.” (Don Vito Corleone). I wonder who can actually trust the Port Authority to complete Gateway on time and on budget? I can only imagine how much the Gateway Project will cost. It does not matter if it is completed: Look at the PATH Station @ the World Trade Center, or uncompleted: See the bus terminal @ Times Square. The results are the same: Not good. Maybe just maybe President Trump can change the behavior and get this project to be cost efficient?

  7. Alex Xenopoulos says:

    In my view, building one tunnel right now while refurbishing the other two tunnels, without the ludicrous Penn Station South, is the most obvious path to take to decrease the cost of the project. That limited project, plus combining the NJT and LIRR (pipe dream) to allow for through running would get us the most bang for the buck. If there is money for another tunnel in the future, do that as well.

  8. Subutay Musluoglu says:

    I seem to recall that the “pro-rail” administration was stymied by the “anti-rail” luddites in Congress. At every turn. And GOP governors proudly and gleefully sent back Federal funds for rail improvements in their states to buck up their anti-progress street cred. Those funds would have paid for local jobs in many of the same depressed counties that voted for Trump, far away from the left elite coasts.

  9. Peter L says:

    Look at the PATH Station @ the World Trade Center

    Hey! That’s a perfectly good $4,300,000,000 transit station that added no capacity and has a leaky oculus!

    Trying to inflate money properly over this period of years probably isn’t economically sound (plus I ran these numbers 4 years ago), but still instructive. The H&M terminal apparently had more terminal capacity, too:

    1909 – $8,000,000 (at least $189M adjusted for inflation, but this number also included a huge, for the time, office complex)

    1971 – $35,000,000 ($202M adjusted)

    2003 – $253,000,000 ($321M, adjusted)

    2014 – $3,400,000,000

  10. Bolwerk says:

    Just call it quits at this point. If New York wants to be serious about transit, it has much better uses for a 10 or 11 figures of investment than a tunnel that mostly benefits New Jersey. Even if something could win Trump’s support, the chances of his appointees being able to administer a project competently, let alone fairly, are about nil.

    The sad reality is you could draw a line on a map between two points a few miles from each other in New York City and you probably have a potential transit route that will move more New Yorkers than Gateway. All New York, city and state, need to do is sit on their hands and wait until the horse traders in New Jersey, Amtrak, and the federal government come up with something viable. It has to happen, though likely won’t happen before Trump is gone – somewhere between next week at the year 3017.

    • Adirondacker12800 says:

      For the umteenth time, New Jerseyans who work in New York pay New York State income tax. If they work in New York City they pay New York City income tax. Along with Connecticuters and other people who don’t live in New York, last time I looked, to the tune of 5 billion dollars a year. They can work at home. Or move to Indiana when the office moves to Indianapolis.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Let them work wherever they want. I’m sure someone in the five boroughs will be happy to take whatever positions they abandon.

        • Adirondacker12800 says:

          It’s a rough commute from Rego Park to Indianapolis.

          • Bolwerk says:

            You’re not being coherent. No jobs are moving from NYC to Indianapolis because New York doesn’t pay for New Jersey’s infrastructure.

            • Adirondacker12800 says:

              When New York stops taxing New Jerseyans.

              • Bolwerk says:

                Adirondacker12800 : “Squirrel!”

                • Adirondacker12800 says:

                  So the money New York collects from everyone who works in New York but lives someplace else shouldn’t count for anything. They and their income taxes will move someplace else if they can’t get to work in New York.

                  • SEAN says:

                    You mean like Georgia, where the state punished the most important employer as political payback for pissing off the NRA. Or North Carolina where despite corporate growth, polls were obsessed with gender issues rather than moving the state forward. There is a lot of that elsewhere, so I’m not trying to focus too much on these two alone.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      There’s no interstate pissing match worth pursuing here. New York simply doesn’t gain anything from Gateway, and has its own projects to pursue. New York certainly shouldn’t be truculent about letting other agencies, including perhaps the Port Authority, pursue Gateway. And the PA is entirely competent (legally anyway) to act in the benefit of the region on this subject.

                      Though is there another case anywhere in the country where an entity that doesn’t really benefit from a project is expected to pay for it? Gateway is akin to New York demanding New Jersey pay for part of cross-harbor freight tunnel. Yes, New Jersey benefits a bit from it, but the main beneficiary is New York.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      Fly to Washington D.C. Or Philadelphia.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Bolwerk, what do you mean New York doesn’t benefit from gateway? With additional trans-Hudson capacity, more passengers can come in via train & not add more cars to our crowded streets. In addition nearby states also benefit with increased travel options.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Even if New Jersey development policy weren’t hostile to TOD, there would probably be no net drop in cars coming in because of Gateway. Gateway isn’t bad for the city/state economy, of course, but it moves no New Yorkers. New Yorkers who want to travel to New Jersey already have capacity to spare at any time except the evening rush. Gateway is about Amtrak and NJT, and even Amtrak has all the capacity it needs right now.

                      I don’t think NYS should stop Gateway, but it’s a simple matter of fairness that you spend $5 billion moving your own citizens before you spend $5 billion moving another state’s citizens. Staten Island has been waiting for a subway for a century. And there are plenty of other projects, worthy or not, that would move more New Yorkers than Gateway.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      You claim tunnels across the Hudson are New Jersey’s problem. fly to Philadelphia. Or change trains in Trenton. Last time I looked it take two and half hours. NJTransit Trenton local to SEPTA Trenton local.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Why would you make that trip? Take Amtrak if you have the money, or take Megabus if you don’t. The latter is still faster and cheaper than any other rail option. Gateway has nothing to do with Philadelphia anyway.

                      Amtrak doesn’t need more than one cross-river tunnel, and I haven’t even seen evidence that they’ll need more than that after Gateway. That pretty much makes leaves New Jersey Transit as the major stakeholder in Gateway. They’re the ones who will suffer the biggest interruption if a tunnel fails.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      Because the tunnels only benefit New Jersey and New Jersey doesn’t care about New Yorkers who want to go to Philadelphia or beyond. You can take NJTransit to Trenton, get on a SEPTA train to Philadelphia, get on another SEPTA train to Delaware, get on a bus to get to a MARC station in Maryland, take that train to Baltimore and change again for Washington D.C. should be able to do it in a day. Or fly, I’m sure the fares to DCA will be quite reasonable.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Why would you make that trip? Take Amtrak if you have the money, or take Megabus if you don’t. The latter is still faster and cheaper than any other rail option. Gateway has nothing to do with Philadelphia anyway.

                      Bolwerk, The gateway project does involve Philadelphia if you look at this on a regional perspective. Amtrak is three times the cost of NJT + SEPTA. I know this as I checked it out & an agent in Stamford, Angela confirmed it. As for Megabus, not everyone has easy access to there services.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      How do trains get from Manhattan to Philadelphia without going under the Hudson? Going all the way up to Albany to cross the Hudson would make the trip very long.
                      Megabus isn’t faster. No bus is faster. Even when there isn’t any traffic.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I know Amtrak is pretending they can provide more service on the NEC with Gateway, but that doesn’t make much sense. They can do it without Gateway. Amtrak sends a few trains per hour through the North River tunnels. With one tunnel out, Amtrak still has enough capacity for its present service needs.

                      Much of the year I travel to Philadelphia weekly. I know what “NJT + SEPTA” is like. It sucks. You know it sucks when a bus is faster.

                      Anyway, I’m not anti-Gateway. As far the route goes, it’s a good project. The cost is bollocks though, and there just isn’t any logic to expecting New York to pay for Gateway.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Bolwerk, There’s no way that taking the bus from NYC to Philadelphia is faster than the train, even if you take NJT/ SEPTA witch takes 2.5 hours, . same as Greyhound. Amtrak is 1.5 hours on Acella & 2-hours on regional trains just to compare.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Sean, I can’t tell whether Adirondacker is a blithering twit or trolling, but you’re sucking me into his red herrings. I said Megabus was faster than NJT/SEPTA rail service to Philadelphia. I didn’t say it was faster than Amtrak. I pointed out Amtrak costs 3x as much and isn’t going to stop serving Philadelphia because we don’t get Gateway.

                      There is probably a small market for service from northern Philadelphia suburbs to NYC that is best served by SEPTA/NJT. Those riders aren’t at an advantage by going into Philadelphia to get Megabus. But that’s a pretty tiny fraction of NYC-bound commuters. No other group should particularly care about NJT’s ability to convey them to Philadelphia because NJT sucks for getting you to Philadelphia.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Sean, I can’t tell whether Adirondacker is a blithering twit or trolling, but you’re sucking me into his red herrings.

                      Bolwerk, LOL – I’m sorry about that. I was trying to understand what the hell was going on around here & possibly correct errors in some of the posts as some became utterly insane.

                      Just don’t make me put both of you in time outs. LOL

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      I’m sure you can empathize with blithering idiots. You were the one that said the tunnels were New Jersey’s. Take a NJTransitTrenton local to Trenton and change for a SEPTA local. Why should New Jersey worry it’s pretty little head about the travel needs of New Yorkers. Or pay for one of those reasonably priced flights into DCA.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      No, the tunnels will be Amtrak’s. You’re doing it again. I don’t care if you disagree with me, but will you at least stop fucking mischaracterizing what I said? I said the tunnels deal with New Jersey’s problem, namely getting New Jersey citizens to work. Basically every other stakeholders’ needs are already met, including Amtrak’s. But because of C. Christie’s tantrum, it looks like Amtrak now has to take the lead on new tunnels. Fine, then let New Jersey, Amtrak, and the PA work out a solution.

                      Where did I say NJT should worry about New Yorkers anyway? I think agencies should cooperate in cases where one isn’t unduly harmed, of course, but you don’t see me claiming New Jersey should spend $5 billion so Long Islanders can get to Hoboken.

                      The NJT-SEPTA arrangement is an example of smart cooperation that has nothing to do with benefiting New York. SEPTA passengers get a fairly convenient trip to New Jersey and New York, and wherever they go NJT can’t possibly complain about having more paying passengers in its service territory. Most of the effort the two agencies have to put into the arrangement is a little schedule synchronization and fare integration.

                      Likewise, the MTA evidently pays NJT to serve west-of-Hudson stations in New York State. One agency might screw the other over, but in theory it’s a good arrangement that benefits both.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      So want does this mean?

                      Bolwerk says:
                      March 7, 2018 at 9:15 pm

                      There’s no interstate pissing match worth pursuing here. New York simply doesn’t gain anything from Gateway,

                      Go ahead. Fly to Philadelphia.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      If you’re trying to make a point by screaming noncontextually about Philadelphia, you aren’t doing a very good job. The number of New Jerseyans directly impacted by a North River tube closure numbers in the six figures. The number of New Yorkers even trivially impacted is unlikely to number in the tens of thousands, and the number of Philadelphians is probably less than that.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      If you want it put more simply, what that means is the New Yorkers on NJT services are simply taking what otherwise would be empty seats on trains deadheading back to New Jersey. They don’t need Gateway because there is already excess capacity for their needs, at least as long as a tunnel doesn’t fail.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Adirondacker 12800, Alright enough , you are confusing me with your illogical posts. Stop it!

                      Bolwerk, I don’t think you are getting what I was getting at in my earlier comments& that’s a surprise to me as I find you are well informed on issues like these, so I’ll try it again.

                      1. Taking Megabus or any bus from NYC is NOT faster than the train to Philadelphia. It is the same as combining NJT & SEPTA at 2.5 hours assuming no traffic on route.

                      2. Amtrak is 2-hours on a regional train & 1.5 hours on acella.

                      3. Adding new tunnels with gateway allows for even more train & passenger throughput & by extension the ability to reduce car trips in & around Manhattan.

                      4. Gateway is a problem effecting everyone between DC & Boston, not just NJ as you stated above. You need to think regionally, not just locally when it comes to infrastructure projects such as this.

                      I hope I fixed things at least a little.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      It’s logical. If New Jerseyans can’t get to work in New York they stop paying New York State and New York City income taxes. If it’s all New Jersey’s problem there’s no reason why New Jersey should worry at all about anyone, other than New Jerseyans, getting anyplace. You can all fly instead.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Megabus and Bolt typically schedule about 2 hours, though, sure, the traffic can make real-world travel time vary. Some of the trips are scheduled at under 2 hours. Picking a random weekday afternoon, NJT+SEPTA seems to manage a 2 hour 27 minute trip with a transfer. Amtrak is currently under an extended service advisory increasing the travel times, but Acela can normally take under an hour. Right now it’s taking a little longer. Amtrak Regional is still sometimes scheduled at under 1h30m.

                      Amtrak is running a few trains per hour through the North River Tunnels, and I’m not sure it has a credible plan to increase the number. Gateway might let them increase the number of trains during peak hours when NJT has to make maximum use of the tunnels, but at other times they probably have more slots than they need.

                      It’s not anti-Gateway to say this: it mainly benefits New Jersey, and the competent agencies to deal with it are NJT, the Port Authority, and Amtrak. New York’s place is to not screw it up, which admittedly might be a tall order.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Adirondacker 12800, the world exists beyond the garden state, so please remove your blinders & think logicly for once. Noone is flying to Philadelphia from NYC, so again I say stop it!

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      I’m not the one claiming they only benefit New Jersey. If the tunnels only benefit New Jersey why should New Jersey let people use them to get to Pennsylvania or beyond?

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Even setting aside the constitutional and legal issues there (like New Jersey not technically owning the tunnels), what does New Jersey gain by doing that?

                      Should New Jersey fund the cross-harbor freight tunnel? That’s a project that benefits New York much more than New Jersey. If Cuomo had branez, he’d probably have horse traded New Jersey support for that for Gateway.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Their positions are in NYS. If they can’t make it with the infrastructure they have, “somewhere else” would have to be somewhere in the region near transit or roads they can use. The alternative is giving up their positions and letting someone else have them.

                    • Adirondacker12800 says:

                      What happens when employer’s employees can’t get to work. the employers move out of town.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      If their employees are in New Jersey, then why wouldn’t they just move to New Jersey?

  11. NM says:

    Historically, Trump’s relationship with unions has not been positive.

    His decision to cancel the Gateway project may be due to the power of the unions in the northeast and their associated expensive labor costs.

    Unions raise the cost of construction, so it is doubtful any non-Democrat politician would agree to funding such large construction jobs.

    Christie’s cancellation of the ARC project may, too, have been due to the presence of the unions in this region.

    • Adirondacker12800 says:

      …then the uppity illegal aliens who have been working on his projects get uppity and sue for back wages.

    • Peter L says:

      Historically, Trump’s relationship with unions has not been positive.

      Historically, Trump’s relationship with contractors has not been positive.
      Historically, Trump’s relationship with employees has not been positive.
      Historically, Trump’s relationship with minorities has not been positive.
      Historically, Trump’s relationship with women has not been positive.
      Historically, Trump’s relationship with reality has not been positive.

      I mean, come on, who are we talking about here?

      This has nothing to do with the technical merits of the plan only with sticking it to Schumer, which I get because I find him annoying.

      However, as much as everyone wants to hate on NYC, if the existing tunnels go away, there will be problems in the financial capital of the country. That’s not a good thing.

      • SEAN says:

        I think a fare number of Trunp’s supporters wouldn’t care if the Hudson River tunnels were closed & never reopened as they don’t see how that would effect them. Others would enjoy it as it is a way for them to think I’m sticking it to the man not realizing what goes around comes around.

    • Eddie B says:

      The tariff nonsense he just did with steel and aluminum was to pander to a certain demographic that is mostly union workers.

  12. wiseinfrastructure says:

    Long Island (including brooklyn + queens) with limited land mass has (if i am counting correctly):

    *24 subway tracks
    *4 rail tracks
    *39 vehicle lanes + 6 shared with the bronx (the triboro bridge)

    NJ and beyond with much greater population potential has:
    *2 rail tracks
    *24 vehicle lanes

    Yes….much more than 2 more rail tracks needed be added to the mix bringing people into one of world’s greatest cities including:

    *2 more tracks into Penn
    *Extension of the 7 to NJ
    *A railroad line from Hoboken to Flatbush terminal via downtown (with though service to Jamaica)
    *Extension of the E subway across the hudson to staten island via bayonne
    *extension of Nj light rail under the hudson and then across 34th, 42nd and 57th streets with

    The above 10 tracks (perhaps built as one midtown crossing and one downtown crossing) could allow for tremendous smart eco friendly growth in the NY area.

    Rather than fight about two tracks we need to build 10.

    • Adirondacker12800 says:

      There’s 6 tracks of railroad between New Jersey and Manhattan.
      If you are building tunnels across the Hudson, you don’t want to put low capacity trolley cars in it.

      • wiseinfrastructure says:

        Yes i missed the path tunnels which are a total of 4 tracks

        The light rail has the benefit of being able to be street running in Manhattan so you save on expensive Manhattan tunneling and stations.

        One light rail pair of tracks under the Hudson could divide in Mahattan and serve 3 cross down streets

        I would not do light rail instead of the other projects but in addition to it.

        • Bolwerk says:

          It’d probably make more sense to branch in New Jersey and loop somewhere in Manhattan. Something like Philadelphia’s subway-surface lines. It could have close to the capacity of PABT with a fraction of the footprint, though getting that many light rail branches in New Jersey is probably a non-starter.

          • SEAN says:

            How are you going to get the HBLR across the Hudson when it hasn’t been set up in Bergen, one of the counties in it’s name?

            • Bolwerk says:

              It was wiseinfrastructure’s idea, not mine. I wouldn’t call it a bad idea, but it’s not exactly the type of thing the lords of the various local fiefdoms are going to embrace.

              The PA has a hard-on for building a bigger bus terminal.

              • SEAN says:

                Sorry Bolwerk, it’s where my prior comment landed.

                As for a new bus terminal, the PA isn’t wrong in principle, rather it’s the enormous cost of such without some kind of useful air rights is the real problem.

    • wiseinfrastructure says:

      Lone Island vs NJ “has”

      i was/am of course referring to connection to manhattan 🙂

    • Peter L says:

      Rather than fight about two tracks we need to build 10.

      Who’s “we”? If you look carefully at the map you’ll see a state boundary running down the Hudson. There is not a similar state boundary running down the East River (or the Sound or whatever it is the further up you go) or the Harlem.

      There is a reason why the only rail tunnels between the states were built by the Pennsylvania RR, a private company. And the state line is it.

      (Did Robert Moses build all the automobile tunnels/bridges to NJ? I don’t recall. He had, let’s say, a different idea about sovereignty than … anyone else … in that he was sovereign and could do as he pleased).

  13. Larry Littlefield says:

    The federal government should have the Army/Navy build a 3 or four track tunnel under the river itself, to a niche in the rocks on the shoreline, as I described here.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/the-gateway-tunnel-and-new-bus-terminal-more-money-that-new-jersey-and-the-port-authority-can-afford-and-more-time-than-they-have/

    Exempting it from all the bullcrap, and doing it affordably.

    And they say “we’ve done our share, and we’re done” leaving the rest — tunneling under the palisades, linking up with Penn Station and the Flushing Line, installing tracks, signals and power — to New York and New Jersey.

  14. Moofie says:

    I’ve heard from NJT people that the current tunnels have about 1% chance per year of failing. The logical thing would be to start digging the tunnels and replace the Portal Bridge with Port Authority money and assume that things will change at the Federal level sometime before the work is complete. For Federal funding the NY and NJ congressional delegation could threaten to not fund the next storm recovery for Texas/Florida or repeat Peter King’s successful threat to block all national Republican fundraising in NY after Sandy. Unfortunately our local politicians seem to only do the right thing when they’ve exhausted all other options.

    • Earl says:

      Not fund storm recoveries. Hmm. Could we apply that to ongoing work? Drop funding at once for the Cranberry St. tunnel. Ditto for The 1’s Cortlandt St. station. The Canarsie Line’s tunnel? Fuhggetabout it.

      Your little corner of the world seems to have had more than its share of disasters. You don’t appear to have much weight here.

  15. Ethan Rauch says:

    I’m glad Trump isn’t also NURSING a grudge. What a horrible image to contemplate.

  16. Larry Littlefield says:

    In a lot of states, you see representatives motivated by statewide self-interest, and having a President from your state is a boon.

    But since Trump has been President, representatives from other parts of New York State have tried to force New York City to pay for their Medicaid expenditures as well as the city’s own.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/medicaid-the-rest-of-new-york-state-re-declares-war-on-new-york-city/

    Taking that cue, Republicans from the rest of New York State then succeeded in getting a big federal tax increase on better off New Yorkers with wage income to pay for tax cuts for those with investment income and those in other states.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/medicaid-and-the-state-and-local-government-tax-deduction-the-federal-government-re-declares-war-on-new-york-city-joining-the-rest-of-new-york-state-and-new-york-citys-politicalunion-clas/

    And now this. They really all want to destroy New York City. The more millennials move here, the more they see it as a place to exploit.

    • SEAN says:

      There’s something of a I hate New York bias among many conservatives, but notice it doesn’t show it self when it comes to enriching them selves. Look no further than theRand Paul’s & the Michelle Bockman’s of the world & the nonsense they spew.

      • SEAN says:

        A quote from Sarah Palen that stuck with me… “in America we speak American,” and don’t get me started on what she defines as “real America.”

  17. eD says:

    I’m wondering if the building project that would be of more benefit to both commuters from New Jersey, and New Yorkers using Amtrak, would be to find away to expand the PATH network in New Jersey.

    The benefit to commuters of an expanded PATH network are obvious. Commuters from places in Mew Jersey where PATH doesn’t go, but New Jersey Transit does, could take New Jersey transit to Newark and Secaucus and transfer. Right now doing this would usually involve a second transfer from PATH to the New York City subway,but if PATH went to more places in New York (Manhattan, though expansion to Brooklyn should be looked at) this second transfer would be needed less often.

    In addition to reverse commutes, with more locations to catch the PATH n New York, New Yorkers using Amtrak could take PATH to Newark and catch a train there. As things are now, you still usually have to take a subway to Penn Station, and only two uptdown-downtown trunk lines go there.

    My understanding is that PATH trains are smaller and this means it would be easier to add capacity to that network than to the long distance networks.

    • SEAN says:

      The PATH system at 33rd as far as I can see is a dead end & cant be extended north without some reconfiguration of midtown buildings & underpinning the BDFM lines.

  18. Paul Berk says:

    Is there any way that extending the 7 line to NJ and the junction at Secaucus, where there might also be a new bus terminal, and which would have other benefits, would take enough pressure off the existing two tunnels into Penn to allow them to be repaired one by one? Even though I hate what Trump is doing, there seem things about Gateway that are not well thought out.

    • eD says:

      Paul Berk made the point I was going to make.

      The system is to funnel passengers from other cities and from the exurbs on largish trains into midtown. The commuters then either walk to work or transfer to the metro/ subway to their ultimate destination.

      Given the river, actually if I was designing the system from scratch, I would have the central passenger rail station on the west side of the Hudson, but have a variety of methods to get across the river via smaller trains and busses. Everything wouldn’t depend on one massive tunnel. Given the problems with the governments as they are in constructing the one massive tunnel, I wonder if switching more to this configuration would work better instead of sinking more resources into supporting the legacy stations in Midtown.

  19. Paul Berk says:

    I don’t know about expanding PATH within NYC but rather than try to integrate PATH into NJT, why not extend the WTC PATH to Secaucus? At Hoboken there’s only the PATH/NJT transfer. At Secaucus there’s that plus Amtrak (as if I needed to tell anyone here). It seems like the range of public policy discussion is limited because the urgency of ARC and Gateway is just the physical condition of the Penn tunnels, where for contributors here, new choices for rail travel, such as PATH or 7 train extension, or through running, represent a better future.

    • Bolwerk says:

      Amtrak is at Secaucus now?

      PATH doesn’t seem very useful for that purpose unless there are already a lot of people who want to get downtown from Secaucus. The problem remains getting people to midtown.

      • SEAN says:

        If you expand the utility of Secaucus Junction with a new Port Authority bus terminal & dense development around it, then getting Amtrak service would be justified.

        • Paul Berk says:

          My error. I thought some NE corridor trains stopped at Lautenberg. But if you could make a PATH connection to WTC there, why not?

          • SEAN says:

            As it is, the only ways to get to Secaucus Junction from WTC are… 1. PATH to Journal SQ to NJT bus #2, 2. PATH to Hoboken & a NJT train one stop or 3. making your way to Penn Station with NJT service one stop or PABT NJT bus 129.

            There should be a better way to get there as it would increase the stations utility many times over especially if dense TOD were to be included.

            • johndmuller says:

              PATH is already an official FRA railroad, so at least in theory, they could cut a portal into the yard at Hoboken station and connect to rail lines there that go to Secaucus. No doubt there would be problems, like maybe the power systems aren’t exactly right, and the PATH trains might look small and be perhaps be a little small at the platforms (i.e. mind the g a p s), but the rails are the same distance apart at least.

              I think the basic problem might be that it may be hard to add many additional trains to the system.

              Of course, many trains already make this run on NJT, so we’re mostly talking about saving one or two short walks to transfer, which you actually might find useful as there may be too many transfers with this plan already.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Not sure I agree. Maybe if the 7 were there too, since at least that offers the best access to Midtown East for many Amtrak users.

          Still, Amtrak is already stopping at Newark and Penn, and sometimes Newark Airport. That’s already a lot of stopping in a very short distance for an intercity train. They should mostly stick to downtown cores.

          PATH to Secaucus probably makes sense, though it doesn’t do much to address Gateway’s needs.

          Rapid transit from New Jersey to the vicinity of 42nd Street is probably the cheapest way to add capacity to that area, but there’s no way it’s replacing the need for a bus terminal at 42nd and Eight Ave..

    • Adirondacker12800 says:

      You can change from Amtrak to PATH in Newark. Most of the time right across the platform going towards Manhattan and almost all of the time down one level, leaving Manhattan. No there doesn’t need to be a transfer from Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast or Raritan Valley trains to PATH in Secaucus either. Those passengers can walk across the platform or down one level just like Amtrak passengers can do in Newark. Since 1938 when Manhattan Transfer was closed. Well since 1967 for Raritan Valley passengers when the CNJ terminal in Jersey City was mostly abandoned. Bergen, Main, Pascack Valley and Morris and Essex passengers can already change to PATH in Hoboken. Like they have been doing for 110 years. Though in olden days Erie passengers changed at what is now called Newport.
      …and there are all those pesky existing PATH or Flushing Line riders to contend with. Pesky. Velcro vests and pants? they can leap at the Velcro covered ceiling of the car and travel that way?

  20. SC says:

    I think there’s a even higher-level conspiracy going on in Trump’s mind: If he can depress New York City and New Jersey real estate prices now by delaying the Gateway Tunnel, then his companies can buy real estate for cheap, and make a fortune later when he makes the decision to fund Gateway after all. It’s pretty much playing the regional real estate market like the stock market, except that he has all the insider information and the political power to make his fortune happen. Sure, it’s unethical, but so is, in the first place not divesting himself and his family of their businesses when he became president.

  21. ottonaarea says:

    Thank you, Katie. ??

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