Two weekends ago, construction on New Jersey’s most important transit project was called to a temporary stop by Governor Chris Christie. He declared a thirty-day review period for the ARC tunnel project, which would build a new rail tunnel below the Hudson and double commuter rail capacity from New Jersey. Many worry the review is just a prelude to axing the $8.7 billion project altogether and using the money saved to patch up New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund for a couple of years.
Advocates are now mobilizing to save ARC. People who live, work, or attend school in New Jersey can send a letter to the Christie administration through the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s “We Need ARC” petition.
Currently, only a single pair of century-old tunnels carry New Jersey Transit trains into Penn Station, and with NJ Transit ridership more than quadrupling since the 1980s, those tunnels are at capacity. “Every two minutes, a train enters Midtown Manhattan from New Jersey,” said Juliette Michaelson of the Regional Plan Association. “That capacity cannot increase.”
Without a new tunnel, commuter rail in New Jersey simply cannot expand. If ARC is built, however, it would be expected to carry 100,000 more commuters into Midtown, more than doubling capacity. Estimates suggest 22,000 cars would be taken off the road as a result. “It’s a game-changer,” said Michaelson.
Christie’s decision to halt all work on the project for thirty days has put the project in grave peril.