NY, NJ congressmen seek 'doomsday' plan for rail tunnel failure

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NEW YORK -

New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer and New York Republican Rep. Peter King are pushing for a "doomsday" plan in case the century-old rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York has a major failure.

The congressmen announced a bill Monday at New York's Penn Station to call for a contingency plan in the event of a disaster.

About 200,000 passengers pass through the tunnel each day. The tunnel is 110 years old and was badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Amtrak officials say that one of the tubes will need to be closed for repair within the next five years.

Transportation experts estimate if one of the two tubes were to be shut down, peak train service would be reduced by 75 percent.

"If just one tunnel comes down we go from 24 trains an hour to six trains an hour going in and out. That would devastate the economy,” Gottheimer said.

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The Federal Railroad Administration estimates if the entire tunnel were to close for one day, it would cost nearly $100 million in lost economic activity and productivity.

There are plans for a new rail tunnel – the Gateway Project. King says that President Donald Trump initially agreed in 2017 to authorize the $13 billion project. But the plan has been mired in a dispute between both states and the federal government over funding. New York and New Jersey have agreed to pay for half of the tunnel.

A study by the Regional Plan Association found that there could be some serious ramifications if a tunnel goes down. The study found that the reduced trail service would lead to more cars on the roads, and through the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. This could mean longer commutes and heavier traffic into and out of New York City.

It could also have an impact on townships with train stations. The study found that property values could go down and towns could see less tax revenue as a result.

The bill asks for a contingency plan from the Department of Transportation within 60 days.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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