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Nadler Gets Signals Crossed On Tunnel – QNS.com

Nadler Gets Signals Crossed On Tunnel

When Congress approved a $286 billion transportation bill on July 29, Rep. Jerrold Nadler announced that he secured $100 million for the beginning phases of design and engineering of the controversial Cross-Harbor Tunnel project.
However, when he informed the Port Authority (PA) of the funds, there was one major obstacle — they told the congressman they could not commit to going ahead with the project at this time.
“We said consistently in the past that it is a worthwhile project, however, we have not committed to it at this time,” said PA Spokesman Steve Coleman.
The tunnel, which Nadler has been pursuing for more than 25 years, would be used as a direct rail-freight connection between Jersey City, N.J. to the Bay Ridge Line in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
From there, trains would continue to Queens using tracks that connect to the Long Island Rail Road.
Then comes the part that has Western Queens residents outraged: An intermodal for transfer of cargo from trains to trucks would be built in Maspeth, which residents fear will bring in more trucks and traffic to an already crowded neighborhood.
“This kind of madness has to be stopped,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, who has spoken out repeatedly against the tunnel, and plans on writing Congress and President Bush to have the $100 million redistributed to other projects.
Coleman said that the Authority is already working on two costly projects with New York and New Jersey. One is a tunnel with a one-seat train ride from lower Manhattan to Kennedy Airport, and the other is a new passenger-train tunnel for N.J. Transit that would run under the Hudson River.
Both projects are expected to cost close to $6 billion, and the PA cannot commit to putting up additional funds for the harbor tunnel, with total expected costs between $4.8 and $7.4 billion.
Another roadblock to the project could be Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s opposition — noted most recently at a Community Board meeting in March.
Since then, the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which had been working on studies for the project for seven years, says that they do not plan on finishing the environmental impact statement.
Despite this fact, as well as community pressures and the “thanks, but no thanks” from the PA, Nadler’s office remained undeterred.
“We are not really concerned,” said Reid Cherlin, a spokesman for Nadler. “We respect that [the Authority] has a lot of projects to juggle. We are confident that it is going to be finished, and it will be finished soon.”
A number of politicians that are in favor of the project include U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, as well as Democratic mayoral hopefuls Gifford Miller, Rep. Anthony Weiner, Fernando Ferrer and C. Virginia Fields.
pdavis@queenscourier.com

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