Greenpoint, October, 2015

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Who's the gent on the far left? That's John Francis Hylan, mayor of New York City from 1918-1925. Among other initiatives, Hylan proposed the Verrazano Rail Tunnel, which would have allowed for subway travel between Brooklyn and Staten Island. He even raised $500,000 for the project. Ground was broken in 1923; sadly, the project ran out of money soon afterwards. (For more, see this excellent Brooklyn Rail post.)

How to Kill a Tunnel (Photo, Star Ledger)
As Hylan found money for the public good, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did his darnedest to lose some. Christie's grandstanding play in killing construction on the Trans-Hudson Passenger Rail Tunnel in 2010 was based on two premises: 1) state transportation officials had revised cost estimates upward to at least $11 billion and potentially more than $14 billion, and 2) that NJ would have to pay 70% of the costs for the tunnel. Wrong and wrong, at least according to the just released General Accounting Office report. State transportation officials had said costs wouldn't go north of $10 billion and that the actual estimated costs for the State would be 14.4% (off by 55% Chris).

What did Christie's mendacity cost the plain people of New Jersey and New York? The best chance for decades to come for increasing the sorely needed capacity for both NJ Transit trains and Amtrak, both of which are running at or close to capacity now. Fewer trains, more car traffic. Just what we all need.

The abandoned Verrazano tunnel shafts became known as "Hylan's Holes." I can think of a similar, more specific term for Christie's tunnel. Any guesses?

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