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Rehabilitation of the East River Tunnels

The rehabilitation of the East River Tunnels and the East Side Access projects are critical to the future of our region’s transportation network and its riders. There are knowns and unknowns about each; it is the unknowns that will determine whether – and when – commuters will benefit. This hearing today will help make at least some of those unknowns known.

Following the long-awaited completion of East Side Access, what will directly affect how many trains the LIRR will be able to run is the state of the East River Tunnels and critical repair work that must be done to ensure their viability.  Ultimately, this work will affect riders on both Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road.

Since the MTA and Amtrak have several significant undertakings ahead of them, including Penn Access, looking at lessons learned and applying them going forward will be critical to helping keep costs lower and reducing the impacts on riders.

It would appear that several golden opportunities were lost during this past year. A comprehensive study on the pros and cons of using the “repair-in-place” method for the East River Tunnels could have been done by now. A phased construction plan could have been completed, with public hearings already held. Some preparatory work could have already begun, when ridership was low and service changes could be integrated with minimal disruption. But as far as we know, none of this was undertaken by Amtrak and we should know why.

Our nation’s leaders are focused on infrastructure and jobs and we should be too: these projects will be key to getting our region back on its feet and to bringing riders back on board.

Read Full Testimony Here: PCAC Testimony – East River Tunnels Hearing 5.7.2021