Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin questioned the cost-effectiveness of the NJT proposal to build a deep-cavern terminal under 34th Street in Manhattan rather than bring new tunnels and tracks to the East Side. In his column published on Monday, December 21st, Doblin said, “The reality is that putting more people in the same part of Manhattan is just plain dumb.” Doblin criticized the proposed deep-cavern terminal because New York’s water tunnel lies between the proposed terminal and the East Side, making it impossible to extend the tracks to Grand Central Terminal. He said, “This should be a deal-breaker for the project as planned. It makes little sense to expend billions and billions of dollars for a less-than-perfect solution.” The Record is the first major media outlet to question the NJT plan.
The Board of Directors of New Jersey Transit approved $1.15 Billion in contracts for the “ARC” (Access to the Region’s Core, also known as Mass Transit Tunnel) and Portal Bridge Projects on December 9th, the last Board meeting before incumbent Governor Jon Corzine leaves office. The contracts call for construction under Manhattan to build a tunnel alignment that would lead to the proposed “deep cavern” terminal to be located 175′ below 34th Street. The Lackawanna Coalition and other rail advocates have objected to the deep-cavern terminal, claiming that the terminal itself would be inconvenient and unsafe, and that the $3 billion price tag for the terminal alone represents a waste of taxpayer money. The Coalition called the issue a “litmus test” for the incoming Christie administration, claiming that saving the cost of the deep-cavern terminal would also improve convenience and connections for New Jersey’s rail riders. Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton Line riders are slated to be evicted from the existing Penn Station when their trains are moved into the deep-cavern terminal under the current NJT plan.