The dogs in the street have been howling for a long time that the Northeast Corridor, so vital to the region’s economy and vitality, isn’t fit for 21st century needs. Yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy trumpeted a joint investment by Amtrak and NJ Transit in the corridor, to the tune of $31 million. That represents a fraction of what ultimately must be spent on upgrades, according to various estimates, but at least it’s something. A press release from the governor’s office noted that the work, which will encompass projects from the northern end of the state as far south as Trenton, will “lead to improved conditions for travelers.”
The money will be spent on infrastructure improvements at Newark Penn Station, where the main focus will be the replacement of old wooden ties with concrete ties; replacement of a timber deck on the Portal Bridge, thus improving “current bridge conditions until a new Portal North Bridge is constructed”; upgrading switch equipment in Trenton, as well as catenary upgrades in New Brunswick, Monmouth Junction/South Brunswick, West Windsor and Trenton.
Meanwhile, the potentially devastating consequences to the region of the stalled Hudson River rail-tunnel replacement and new Portal Bridge do not yet seem to have moved President Donald Trump or federal transportation officials to pony up funds to get those projects back on track.