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Old Posted Oct 9, 2010, 3:42 AM
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Rail advocates: Cut link to NYC's planned 34th St. Station, save $3B

hat's the message of a group of rail advocates, including a retired Long Island Railroad executive, who contend that $3 billion can be cut out of the proposed $8.7 million second Hudson River project by doing that, and save it from being scuttled by the Christie administration for fiscal reasons.

Members of the Regional Working Rail Group said their arguments have more validity now that Gov. Chris Christie has questioned if the state can afford the project, which federal officials fear could top $10 billion over time.

"I hope they'll look at the cost of the current project and an alternative that will clearly save them money," said Joseph Clift, a member of the Regional Rail Working Group and retired LIRR director of planning.

To do so means returning to one of the alternative plans to send trains to Penn Station, instead of to a proposed deep cavern station about 150 feet under 34th Street. That plan, known as alternative G, was rejected by NJ Transit because of engineering and geological issues.

But Clift said that although some of those issues are "engineering challenges," they are not "fatal flaws," as NJ Transit officials have contended.

"We say kill the 34th Street station plan and go back to the draft environmental impact statement plan of February 2008 and build the route to Penn Station. It will save $3 billion. . . . The savings are from not doing the route to 34th Street," Clift said during a walking tour of the tunnel route from the Hudson River to Penn Station through Midtown Manhattan.

Several legislators have taken the tour, and information about resurrecting the Penn Station route has been sent to Christie and Transportation Commissioner James Simpson.

Eliminating the deep cavern tunnel and station could reduce or even eliminate the state's share, which would come from New Jersey Turnpike Authority Revenues and from the almost-broke state Transportation Trust Fund.
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