The New Jersey Legislature has authorized funding for Northeast Corridor (NEC) improvements of $35.7 million for fiscal year 2013—an 81% increase over the $19.7 million originally proposed by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The NEC line is important for rail riders in our area, because Midtown Direct trains on the Morris & Essex, Montclair-Boonton, and Gladstone trains use it to get to and from Penn Station.
Coalition Political Director Jim Raleigh and Technical Director Joseph Clift campaigned in Trenton for this increase, with help from Coalition member Brad Payeur. A story by Clift, with bar chart detailing NEC funding, is in the June-July issue of the Railgram.
“We CAN Connect New England by Rail” was the theme of a conference held in New Haven on April 29, and members of the Lackawanna Coalition helped with the effort. This writer moderated a panel on “Connecting New England with South of New York”. Technical Director Joseph M. Clift described our proposal for building a new track through the Meadowlands and a new tunnel into Penn Station, both at a reasonable cost. Today, there are only two tracks into New York’s Penn Station from New Jersey, and one is taken out of service every weekend. Our plan would guarantee that at least two tracks are always available, under normal operation or a foreseeable emergency situation.
Political Director James T. Raleigh explained the importance of proper strategy when campaigning for a project. He stressed that going to legislative hearings and similar events is the key to gaining the credibility that is needed for effective advocacy. This is the strategy that helped to defeat the proposal for a deep-cavern terminal far below Manhattan streets.
Richard J. Arena, who divides his time between Boston and New Jersey, stressed the importance of connectivity between the regions. New Jersey was well-represented among the attendees, which included 10 members of the Lackawanna Coalition, coming from 5 states. The conference was cosponsored by the Rail Users’ Network (RUN), the Connecticut Sierra Club, and the National Corridors Initiative (NCI).
Joseph M. Clift, chair of the Technical Committee of the Lackawanna Coalition, appeared on New Jersey Network on Sunday, September 26th, to present the position of the rider advocacy alliance concerning the ARC Project.
Clift presented the Moynihan/Penn Station First alternative and its benefits to New Jersey’s rail riders, and concluded by inviting Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) to take the walking tour of the Penn Station area that Clift and Coalition Political Committee Chair James T. Raleigh give to demonstrate the feasibility of theMoynihan/Penn Station First alternative to the deep-cavern terminal favored by New Jersey Transit.
Senator Michael Doherty (R-Warren) also spoke against the project as currently proposed by NJT, saying the there are insufficient funds available for New Jersey to afford its share of the project, if it includes the proposed deep-cavern terminal. Zoe Baldwin of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign spoke in favor of the project as currently proposed, along with Wisniewski.
Their views were presented on On the Record,
a public affairs program broadcast on Sunday mornings. It can be found in the Archives on the station’s web site,www.njn.net