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ARC Tunnel Doesn't Get to the Core

Date : Wed, 29 Apr 2009 14:52:54 -0400

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2009

Contact: Jeff Tittel, NJ Sierra Club Director



ARC tunnel doesn't get to the core


The NJ Sierra Club is calling on the region's leaders to come together and address the many inadequacies of the Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project as it is currently proposed. The Sierra Club believes a cohesive transportation plan must be coordinated in order to make the ARC tunnel into New York an effective project.


The Sierra Club is a longtime supporter of the concept of a new rail tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York City. However, the ARC project has changed significantly over time and no longer meets the initial objectives.


Originally, the ARC project was designed to serve several purposes. First, the plan was to create another tunnel into New York. There were other important goals, including providing New Jersey commuters access to the Grand Central Station and the East Side of Manhattan, creating a backup tunnel for Amtrak that would service Penn Station or the new Moynihan Station, and enabling trains to travel from one area of the metropolitan region to another.


"Unfortunately, this tunnel now only meets the first of those goals and not the other four," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "Instead of connecting to Penn Station or the new Moynihan Station, the tunnel dead ends 180 feet below the ground, two blocks from Penn Station. The project is now the tunnel to Macy's basement."


The Sierra Club is concerned that this configuration will undermine good transportation planning for the region. Because it the tunnel is proposed to be so far under ground, it may deter people from using it and could be a risk in the event of an emergency.


As proposed, to get to ground level, passengers will have to travel the equivalent of 20 stories via a series of escalators that will be longer than two football fields. "This labyrinth of tunnels will be more reminiscent of a corn maze than a train station," Tittel said.


Besides the long travel time involved in getting to ground levels and the added risk during an emergency, the configuration as planned will be confusing for passengers. For example, NJ Transit will continue to use Penn Station in addition to the tunnel station. At rush hour, when there many trains are coming and departing, it will be confusing for passengers, who will have to determine if they are leaving from Penn Station or the ARC tunnel station two blocks away.


Once they figure out their departure location, passengers then will then have to navigate through the series of underground walkways. One of the options NJ Transit is considering in order to alleviate the confusion is to have all train lines go to Penn Station except the two Bergen Lines, which will use the new tunnel.


"The Bergen Line would then be the railroad from Xanadu to Macy's basement," Tittel said. "This project seems to be more about pay to play and overdevelopment in the Meadowlands."


There are presently five major proposals for the expansion of train service in and out of Midtown Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg is working to extend the Seven Train, which will go right above this NJ Transit tunnel. The Long Island Railroad wants to provide access to the East Side. Sen. Chuck Schumer is pushing for the new Moynihan Station in Midtown. Congressman Jerry Nadler wants to establish a freight rail tunnel to displace traffic from the roads. Then there's this NJ Transit tunnel proposal. Each project is expecting, and actively seeking, federal dollars.


"The fact that all of these projects are within a few blocks of each other demonstrates the lack of collaboration that exists in improving the region's transportation. Instead of a cohesive plan, we have created a mishmash of disjointed ideas. Each organization is acting like a bunch of children who don't want the others to touch their train set," Tittel said.


There has been very little public input and virtually no local review by the communities impacted by this in New Jersey.


Some of the options that should be considered to allow for East Side access would be to have a train station enabling passengers to connect with the Seven Train or to design the tunnel so the Seven Train goes right through out to Secaucus Junction. The tunnel should meet up with the Moynihan Station so as to allow through trains access.


"A coordinated plan is the first step to improving public transportation access," Tittel said. The Sierra Club is calling on Gov. David Patterson, Gov. Jon Corzine, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, senators Schumer, Lautenberg and Menendez, as well as Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, to sit down together and develop a comprehensive plan that constructively brings all of these projects together. The establishment of a regional transportation board, not five agencies that deal with transportation, should also be considered.


"We agree that a third rail tunnel is needed to improve access to the region's core but it must be done right. It took us 50 years to get to this point; we can't wait another 50 years for an effective solution," Tittel said.






Kara Seymour, Program Assistant

NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street

Trenton, NJ 08618


(f) 609.656.7618


Received on 2009-04-29 11:52:54

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at

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