In the aftermath of yesterday’s GAO report criticizing the cancellation of the ARC Tunnel, the political air has been rife with acrimony. Christie, of course, has been defending his decision while his political opponents have renewed their attacks. A former New Jersey Governor accused Christie of playing the state for a short-term gain, but none of these reactions are unexpected.
If we step back and take a look at the larger picture, though, things are a bit gloomy. NJ Spotlight offers up a very thorough overview of the problems plaguing trans-Hudson rail access and the prospects for the future. Mark Magyar devotes quite a few inches in his piece to the goings-on involving Amtrak’s proposed Gateway Tunnel. Although it would provide only around 65 percent the capacity of ARC, it seems to have the best future. However, with no real funding in place, Thomas Wright of the RPA said, “2022 is probably too ambitious a target date.”
Without the 7 extension and without ARC, Gateway is indeed our best (and possibly last) hope for improved trans-Hudson rail access in this generation, and that fact is not lost on those paying attention. In an editorial today, The Star-Ledger urged Christie to provide “more than his moral support” for Gateway. That’s an exhortation that runs both ways. Both New York and New Jersey will have to put their support behind Gateway, and politicians in New Jersey who have spent a few years pointing fingers over ARC will have to work together. The future of our region may depend upon it.