New York gets funding for freight tunnel - whether it wants it or not

| 8/5/2005

While most state and local governments are busy celebrating the funding they are going to receive from the federal Highway Bill, the New York Port Authority is troubled by $100 million that was earmarked for a freight tunnel to run beneath New York Harbor.

No one at the Port Authority asked for the money and no one there is really interested in the tunnel project either.

According to The New York Times, the tunnel for rail freight has long been a pet project of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Nadler told The Times that the funding was a major accomplishment and that the tunnel –which would allow freight trains to run from Jersey City, NJ, to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn – is “absolutely necessary.”

Nadler isn’t alone in that sentiment.

A group called Move NY&NJ – which consists of leaders from New York’s business, labor, environmental, community and planning sectors – praised the funding in a news release, adding that the tunnel will be necessary to help New York absorb projected increases in freight traffic in the future.

The group said that New York would see a projected 79 percent increase in freight traffic during the next 20 years.

But the Port Authority maintains that the $100 million is just a drop in the bucket, and that the tunnel would ultimately cost between $4.8 billion and $7.4 billion to complete.

The tunnel had been a priority on the agenda of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, but his successor, Michael Bloomberg, withdrew his support for the project earlier this year, according to The Times.

What’s more, the governors of both New Jersey and New York have their own ideas for tunnel projects, neither of which is a freight tunnel. New York’s Gov. George Pataki wants a passenger train tunnel from lower Manhattan to Kennedy International Airport, while New Jersey’s Gov. Richard Codey wants a passenger train tunnel under the Hudson River.