RPA on Amtrak Repairs at Penn: Short-Term Pain for Long-Term Gain

This week, Amtrak unveiled more details about their plans for extensive track work over the summer at Penn Station. The proposed repairs would close tracks for 44 days in July and August, all in an effort to curb the derailments that have plagued the station over the past few weeks. RPA’s Vice President for Transportation Richard Barone spoke to the press this week about what these plans will mean for the region’s transit network in the short- and long-term.

Despite the disruptions that Amtrak’s planned repairs will create for thousands of commuters this summer, these investments are necessary.

“Our region’s infrastructure is old and fragile. We have not invested enough in renewing and modernizing it. In the near-term, we will be required to make some tough choices in order to expeditiously and affordably undertake needed repairs and improvements,” Barone told Politico.

What these plans will mean for commuters varies across the region.

“Rich Barone said that with reduced capacity at Penn Station, some LIRR riders may have to commute using the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, for example. Some NJ Transit riders might have to take the PATH into Manhattan, or terminate service at Newark Penn Station. Ferries or buses are other options for NJ Transit riders. ‘No one wants to lose service,’ Mr. Barone said. ‘But the public needs to be open to that…Politicians and bureaucrats think that the public isn’t willing to accept short-term pain for long-term gain.'” – Wall Street Journal

And while they will make Penn Station’s tracks more reliable, Amtrak’s summer repair plans don’t erase the need for the Gateway project, the $24 billion project to replace the crumbling rail tunnels under the Hudson River used by Amtrak and NJ Transit and invest in rail infrastructure throughout New York and New Jersey.

As explained in RPA’s video Tunnel Trouble, the current Hudson River rail tunnels are over 100-years old and were damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

“We’re operating on borrowed time,” Barone told The Economist.


Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr

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