Letter to the Editor: On the Cross Harbor Tunnel

October 9, 2011 Editorial Staff
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Cross Harbor Tunnel under consideration again (Helen Klein –September 22) reminds me of the long forgotten proposed tunnelbetween 69th Street in Bay Ridge and St. George, StatenIsland.

The concept was to extend subway service from Brooklyn to StatenIsland. Ground was broken with entrances at both ends in the 1920s,but the project quickly ran out of money and was abandoned tohistory. When living on Shore Road in Brooklyn, friends and I wouldlook to no avail in attempting to find the abandoned site filled indecades earlier. Flash forward 90 years later and we have theproposed Cross Harbor rail freight tunnel project.

Construction of any new freight or public transportation tunnel orbridge project can take decades by the time all feasibilitystudies, environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, realestate acquisition, permits, procurements, construction, budgeting,identifying and securing funding is completed. This is before theproject reaches beneficial use.

Construction for the Second Avenue subway began in the 1960s. (Bondmoney intended for this project in the 1950s was spent elsewhere).The latest completion date for the first segment between 63rd and96th Streets is 2016 at a cost of $4.5 billion.

Construction for the original tunnel to support bringing the LongIsland Rail Road into Grand Central Station began in the 1960s. Thelatest completion date is now 2018, with a cost of $8billion.

No one can identify the source for $10 billion to build a newtunnel for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to gain additional accessto Penn Station from New Jersey. Ditto for the estimated $15 to $20billion for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Any guess who will find $5 to $10 billion or more needed forconstruction of a new Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel? This is justanother in the continuing series of feasibility studies sponsoredby various governmental agencies and public officials overdecades.

They generate some money for consultants along with free publicityfor elected officials who promise a bright future but leave usholding an empty bag. At the end of the day, just like the longabandoned Brooklyn to Staten Island subway, don’t count on seeingcompletion of any Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel in yourlifetime.

– Larry Penner

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