No. 7 train tunnel to Jersey too rich for MTA officials

New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie speaks about his decision to kill the nation's biggest public works project, a train tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York City. However, Christie said he would look into contributing funds to a plan to extend the No. 7 line to New Jersey. AP Photo/Mel Evans
By Philip Newman

Although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likes the idea, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s vision of a No. 7 subway line running all the way to New Jersey has run into a chorus from those who say it will not happen.

Christie, speaking on the 11-station network Millennium Radio, said he would even look into contributing state funds for the project.

Christie last month vetoed another bigger project to build a railroad tunnel linking New Jersey and Manhattan, saying it was too expensive and that his state could not afford it.

Bloomberg’s plan would extend the No. 7 route not only past Times Square to 11th Avenue but on to Secaucus, N.J.

Elected officials and transit leaders mostly said it was an unreachable goal.

“It’s an exciting idea,” said Jay Walder, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. But Walder said it was one mega-project too many.

The MTA is already building a Second Avenue subway, the East Side Access to bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central Terminal and the Fulton Transit Center in Lower Manhattan. The No. 7 extension, which is scheduled to be completed in 2013, is being built by the MTA and paid for by the city.

“There is no money in our capital program for any mega-projects beyond the three we have underway,” Walder said. The mayor’s plan has set the cost of extending the No. 7 to Secaucus at $5.3 billion. If any money is forthcoming, it would have to be from the federal government, which transit officials said seemed unlikely.

“It’s not going to happen,” said Jeffrey Zupan, senior transportation fellow of the Regional Plan Association.

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) said he doubted that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood would agree to transfer $3 billion originally intended for a Hudson River tunnel to pay for a No. 7 extension to New Jersey.

“I think not,” Nadler said.

Bloomberg’s idea for a trans-Hudson subway tunnel is not original. The Regional Plan Association came up with a plan for a Hudson River tunnel more than 20 years ago, but New Jersey transit officials opposed it.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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