Tunnel closures could have massive effect on North Jersey rail riders

The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition has long advocated for a one-seat rail ride into New York Penn Station for the roughly 23,500 commuters on the Raritan Valley line. At a coalition meeting this week, chairman Bruce Bergen stressed the importance of the Gateway Project in giving riders the commute they deserve.

“Gateway tunnel is the long-term solution not only to our problems, but to the major issues in North Jersey of getting into Manhattan,” said Bergen.

The Regional Plan Association presented a report at the meeting that looked at the possible outcomes if repairs have to be made to existing Hudson tunnels before the new tunnels under the Gateway Project can be completed, and it could mean bad news for commuters.

The report predicts 38,000 NJ Transit riders would have to find other ways to commute in such a situation, thereby resulting in an increase of congestion on roads and a surge in airline ticket prices. Those two factors would play into the $16 billion cost the report predicts a partial shutdown would have on the US over the four years it would take to repair the tunnels.

“If you take away one thing from this evening’s presentation it’s that the impacts of a tunnel closure are not just to the people who are riding rails to work,” said Nat Bottigheimer, New Jersey Director at the RPA.