MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota shot down Mayor Michael Bloomberg's idea to extend the No. 7 subway line into New Jersey, saying the proposal is just too expensive.
Bloomberg proposed the No. 7 extension in 2010 as a plan to help ease commuter traffic into Manhattan after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie canceled the Trans-Hudson Passenger Rail Tunnel, also known as the ARC Tunnel, a long-planned rail line, back in 2010.
"I can't see this happening in our lifetime," Lhota said. "The expense of it is beyond anything that we're doing." His remarks came this morning at a Building Congress Breakfast forum in lower Manhattan.
But Lhota said another proposal, Amtrak's Gateway Tunnel, is more viable. That federal project, estimated to cost around $13.5 billion, would increase capacity for NJ Transit and Amtrak trains entering Manhattan. Last month, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the project is "absolutely critical."
Lhota said he had discussed the matter with the mayor and told him the No. 7 extension, which is expected to cost in the billions of dollars but still significantly less than the Gateway project, wasn't a realistic option.
"I've had discussions with the mayor and with other folks from City Hall," Lhota said. "I think the mayor understands."
But at a press conference today, Bloomberg said he still hoped the No. 7 extension would be built, and that the key difficulty would be securing funding for it.
"I don't know, we can keep trying," Bloomberg said. "It would be great if it happened."
"Getting a way to have people come in and out of the city with mass transit is obviously the way to go," Bloomberg added. "I am sure what Joe is referring to is it's very hard to see the funding for that come right now. If somebody could provide the funding, I can tell you, Joe Lhota could build it."
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