Staten Island Congressman Dan Donovan, whose borough gets free ferry service to Manhattan, isn’t particularly enthusiastic about this new Amtrak proposal to build a rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River.
“It’s disheartening to sit in traffic while listening to news updates about multibillion dollar investments for another underwater rail tunnel from New Jersey to Manhattan,” he said in a statement sent to the press Wednesday afternoon. “It’s time to get serious about viable transportation alternatives here at home.”
The existing two-track Amtrak tunnel beneath the Hudson River is 105 years old and carries mostly New Jersey Transit trains. Thanks to its age and Hurricane Sandy’s assault on its structural integrity, it is fast deteriorating.
The CEO of Amtrak has said it could have fewer than 20 years left before it needs to be taken offline.
Any longterm outage could paralyze the region, thanks to New York’s reliance on New Jersey for labor and cheap office space.
New Jersey residents make up 12 percent of Manhattan’s workforce and contribute more to New York State’s personal income tax levy than Staten Islanders do (nearly $3 billion to Staten Island’s roughly $500 million, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy).
Donovan is a Republican whose party’s support could prove crucial to getting the new tunnel funded.
His press release argues that Staten Islanders “likely” pay more, per capita, in gas taxes than other New York City residents and that Staten Island deserves a light rail on the West Shore and bus rapid transit on its North Shore.
He notes the West Shore light rail could carry 13,000 riders a day.
The deteriorating tunnel beneath the Hudson carries 200,000.
“I understand the importance of maintaining the regional infrastructure on which millions of people rely, and I will work toward a long-term transportation bill to provide funding certainty to regional planners,” he said. “Still, it’s about time Staten Island got the attention it deserves. State and local planners have to prioritize this borough’s spiraling transportation challenges.”
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