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Amtrak, NJ Transit May Revive Tunnel Project

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Amtrak train at Penn Station - New York, NY - File / Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Amtrak train at Penn Station (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

levon_feature Levon Putney
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NEPTUNE, N.J. (AP/WCBS 880) – Amtrak and NJ Transit have begun discussing the possibility of partnering to build a second train tunnel under the Hudson River just weeks after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie killed just such a project.

Officials at both agencies described the talks as merely exploratory and said they began after the governor’s Oct. 27 announcement that he was killing the tunnel project because of potential cost overruns.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports

A spokesman for the Republican governor cautioned that the talks do not mean that the scrapped tunnel project is being revived.

The tunnel project “is over,” said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak, but “fiscally viable alternatives” would be investigated.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said that among the things being looked at is whether the work already done for the project could be salvaged for Amtrak’s needs.

“We’re looking into common project opportunities with NJ Transit,” Cole said. “We’re not sure if there are even any opportunities that would work but we’ve been asked to sit down and talk with them and we’ve begun that process.”

Amtrak and NJ Transit currently share a century-old, two-track tunnel under the river that has been at capacity for years.

The killed project would have added two more tracks in a new tunnel. It was expected to cost about $9 billion, with costs split by New Jersey, the federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Work on it began last year, but Christie killed the project last month, saying the overrun costs would be too much for his state’s taxpayers. At the same time, Christie mentioned the possibility of forming a partnership with Amtrak to build a new tunnel, but said no substantive discussions had taken place.

Christie has mentioned the possibility of forming a partnership with Amtrak to build a new tunnel, but also has said no substantive discussions had taken place.

Amtrak has said it would be interested in using the Hudson River tunnel for high-speed rail. In September, the government-owned passenger rail system unveiled its vision for a $117 billion high-speed rail line that would require building a new set of tracks along the entire Northeast Corridor, from Boston to Washington, D.C. No substantial planning has begun, nor has financing been secured.

(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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