One-seat ride takes the express
Soon to be President Barack Obama’s search for shovel-ready public works projects need not look any further than the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel that’s part of the Port Authority and NJ Transit project called Access to the Region’s Core.
The tunnel will connect New Jersey to midtown Manhattan’s West Side at 34th Street, doubling the hourly number of trains that can cross the Hudson River. Eventually, the project will provide Rockland commuters using the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines with a one-seat commute.
The project cleared a major hurdle to getting federal transportation funds when a Record of Decision was filed, thus ending the extensive environmental reviews necessary before the work can move ahead.
What’s important now is that Record of Decision will put ARC in a position to get some of the money Obama is prying loose from Congress as part of the overall economic stimulus package.
Unfortunately, at least in part because of the inability of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Thruway Authority to get on the same page in the early stages of the Tappan Zee Bridge / I-287 Corridor project, it likely isn’t far enough along to get a boost from federal stimulus money.
Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael Fleischer was visiting with our Editorial Board earlier today and we had a chance to chat for a few moments after the session. When I suggested that a more cooperative relationship between the MTA and the TA might have moved the Tappan Zee project along quickly enough to get stimulus funds, he wasn’t going there. And he wasn’t buying my suggestion that the Port Authority and NJ Transit had better partners and their cooperative spirit moved ARC along more quickly.
He thought it was more a matter of the MTA having so many projects on its plate, he said, like the Second Avenue Subway that it was hard to dive into another when the TZ study began.
The Thruway Authority hopes to get a share of the stimulus money designed to move ahead public works projects to spur employment and use part of the funding to cover costs of the remaining deck resurfacing of the present bridge — work that’s scheduled to resume in the spring.
But the Tappan Zee project — now with the state Department of Transportation as the lead agency — still has a couple of stops before a Record of Decision is released, likely in 2010, according to the study team’s most recent time line.