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Tunnel Trouble: Crumbling Infrastructure Is Putting the NYC Metro Region at Risk

Posted by Infra on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

The tri-state area is loaded with bridges, rail systems and roadways that are suffering from years of under-investment. But perhaps the biggest risk we face is with the rail tunnel linking New Jersey and New York. Built more than a century ago, the fraying tubes that carry NJ Transit and Amtrak trains are the biggest chokepoint in the Northeast, and the source of frequent delays for commuters. For years, the tunnels have needed extended repairs that are impossible to do while keeping trains running. The situation deteriorated when the tunnels flooded with salt water during Hurricane Sandy. Amtrak officials say the tubes might not last 20 years.

But building new tunnels by themselves won’t suffice. Penn Station is one of the worst transit hubs of any major metropolis, and it needs to be replaced in conjunction with the construction of new rail tunnels. As New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelmann wrote recently, “…upgraded rail service and improved public space in the form of safe, efficient and dignified transit hubs go hand in hand. They’re both environmental and social justice no-brainers.”

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One Response to “Tunnel Trouble: Crumbling Infrastructure Is Putting the NYC Metro Region at Risk”

  1. Bruce W. Hain says:

    According to a high powered English consultant’s study that NJ Transit had done around 1990, Tunnel A of the Path System is in far worse shape. The study said the tunnel should be closed in twenty years. The west end of the tunnel was built first and made of brick. It moves up and down some several inches every year in the silty mud of the riverbed.

    While the Gateway Project is expected to take advantage of the existing tunnels and boring machines now under Jersey City and left over from the ARC fiasco – called off due to a 300-member class action of Manhattan business threatened with displacement – this route would make the new project almost as stupid and circuitous as the ARC Tunnel.

    The machines should be moved and the new route should skip Secaucus Junction. I presented a drawing of this route to someone in charge of preliminaries in the ARC Project some years ago, but it doesn’t seem to do any good.

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