NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City wants to extend a cross-town subway line under the Hudson River to New Jersey, taking advantage of federal stimulus support and construction work intended for a canceled New Jersey commuter rail tunnel, a city official said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The idea offers an alternative to the $8.7 billion commuter rail tunnel project that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killed last month when he said the cash-strapped state could not afford billions of dollars in likely cost overruns.
“Extending the 7 line to New Jersey could address many of the region’s transportation capacity issues at a fraction of the original tunnel’s cost, but the idea is still in its earliest stages,” said Andrew Brent, a spokesman for Robert Steel, New York City deputy mayor for economic development in the statement.
“Like others, we’re looking at -- and open to discussing -- any creative, fiscally responsible alternatives,” he said.
As with the scuttled plan in neighboring New Jersey, the New York City proposal would double the number of trains traveling between New Jersey and midtown Manhattan during peak hours.
The $5.3 billion project would extend the No. 7 train -- which currently runs from the New York borough of Queens to Manhattan’s Grand Central Station and Times Square -- under the Hudson River to Secaucus, New Jersey, where it would connect to New Jersey Transit’s suburban rail lines, Brent said.
Construction is already underway to extend the subway line to the far west side of Manhattan, meaning some of the costly tunneling work that would be needed for the proposed New York-New Jersey project will soon be completed.
The New Jersey tunnel was to be the largest public works project in the country and had been awarded more than $3 billion in federal money at a time when the Obama administration has made infrastructure spending a cornerstone of its economic stimulus efforts.
The Obama administration has requested prompt repayment of more than $270 million in federal grant money. Christie has said the state is reviewing the request.