NEWARK, N.J. (AP/ WCBS 880) --Amtrak said it is not interested in taking over the Hudson River commuter rail tunnel project that New Jersey's governor killed last month.
Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said the national railroad's primary focus is advancing a Northeast Corridor high-speed rail service and that it had "no interest in a partnership'' with NJ Transit on reviving the tunnel project.
WCBS 880's Levon Putney reports
Earlier this week, Gov. Chris Christie told the editorial board of The Record newspaper that Amtrak was interested in engineering work and other plans NJ Transit had completed for the scrapped Hudson River rail tunnel. The governor killed the $8.7 billion tunnel from New Jersey to Manhattan because of potential cost overruns.
"Amtrak has already spoken to us about whether certain (aspects) of the engineering work and other (work) that was done already might be something that they could purchase from us as they begin to look to plan their tunnel for high-speed rail,'' Christie told the editorial board of The Record.
On Thursday, Amtrak released a statement saying it had no plans to purchase any NJ Transit work related to the project. It did say, however, that it was open to exploring ways to expand passenger rail capacity under the Hudson, provided NJ Transit "fully fund all costs associated with creating additional commuter train capacity.''
NJ Transit has questioned whether it was obligated to pay back the entire $271 million that it had gotten from the federal government for the now-dead tunnel project. On Wednesday, Christie said lawyers were looking into it and that the state won't pay "a nickel more than we think we have to.''
On Wednesday, Christie also told The Record that his wife, a bond trader for Cantor Fitzerald, had a role in his decision to kill the project, which would have doubled the number of trains into Manhattan during peak hours.
'The lobbying to me on this one was from my wife, who spent 18 years commuting into New York City,'' he said. "She's like, 'So this thing's going 10 stories under Macy's ... and then I gotta go back up and I gotta walk over to Penn Station, I get on a subway ... This is crazy. This doesn't make any sense.'''
However, under the plan that Christie killed, Mary Pat Christie would have had access to 10 local train lines and could have caught a train from the new station to her office at 59th Street and Park Ave. or to Wall Street.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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