New Jersey lawmakers concerned about summer Amtrak improvement plans

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NEW YORK -

A handful of New Jersey lawmakers gathered at New York Penn Station Friday to voice their concerns about Amtrak’s plans for maintenance and improvements on the rails.

The officials spoke to reporters after completing an inspection tour of the conditions at the more than 100-year-old station. They voiced their concerns that service disruptions during the work could eliminate a quarter of New Jersey Transit’s commuter rail service. Amtrak plans to close five tracks while the work is completed.

The lawmakers say that they want to see improvements at the station, but few people have any good answers as to how to make that happen with limited disruption.

“We need two tunnels because the 106-year-old tunnels have been damaged in such a way that they’re going to fail,” said state Sen. Bob Gordon. “And if one of those tubes goes down, we lose 75 percent of our capacity.”

Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a private operator to take over New York Penn. Christie and Cuomo sent a joint letter Thursday to Amtrak's CEO, calling for a private operator for the station.

The letter, in part, states that the situation at Penn Station has “gone from bad to worse to intolerable" and "drastic action must be taken."

The governors ask that Amtrak eventually hand over control of the station to another agency. They also want to approve any private contractor Amtrak chooses to make repairs.

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