Increasingly, transportation experts and politicians are getting behind a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel plan, the so-called Gateway project, according to Steve Strunsky, reporting in the Star-Ledger (June 14). The catchier “Gateway” name isn’t the only advantage over the now-defunct Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project, derided as “the stop in Macy’s basement”. Like ARC, Gateway would double rail capacity into Manhattan by constructing 2 additional trans-Hudson rail tubes, and would also encompass smaller projects, including the Moynihan Station expansion of Penn Station passenger facilities into the main Post Office and replacement of the aging Portal bridge over the Hackensack River. However unlike ARC, Gateway would be fully integrated into the existing Penn Station.
Amtrak board member Anthony Cosca, speaking at a Regional Plan Association conference, said, “What should be clear is that nobody, nobody is debating that we need this.” Where the money might come from remains unclear; estimated cost of the project is $13–15 billion, higher than the ARC project estimates. New Jersey Gov. Christie, who killed the ARC project as an unaffordable cost to NJ taxpayers, has not ruled out support for Gateway. Amtrak supports the project as essential to eliminate a bottleneck limiting Amtrak’s long-range high-speed rail plans. If Gateway goes forward, it would take until 2025 to complete the project. NJ State Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson said that Gov. Christie would be fully briefed on Gateway; “We’ll see where it goes,” Simpson said.