Rasputin's Tunnel?

First, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cancelled the proposed intercity and suburban rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan because of the financial obligations its out-of-control costs could impose on the state's taxpayers. Then he delayed the final decision, under pressure from Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and other supporters of the tunnel. In the end, the proponents were unable to provide the financial guarantees necessary to keep New Jersey from having to pay more than it had committed and Christie cancelled the tunnel for good. Or so it appeared.

Now, the tunnel may be back. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has studies underway that could lead to extending subway Line 7 from a station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue to New Jersey instead.

Early press reports suggest the line can be built for $5.3 billion, which is approximately one-half the cost of the previous proposal. It is more likely that Governor Christie will buy the Brooklyn Bridge with tax money than this amount is in the "ball park." The subway tunnel would be only four blocks (15 percent) shorter than the cancelled tunnel.

The previous tunnel had the less than attractive name, "Access to the Regional Core." Given the back and forth history of this project, a more appropriate name might be "Rasputin's Tunnel," after the Russian mystic whose enemies failed in multiple attempts to murder (though in the end, they succeeded).