NYC mayor working on extending subway to New Jersey

NEW YORK Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:40pm BST

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NEW YORK Oct 26 (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday he was working with the governors of New York and New Jersey on a plan to extend the No. 7 subway line to New Jersey's Secaucus train station.

The decades-old proposal resurfaced a year after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie rejected an alternative $7 billion Hudson River rail tunnel due to cost concerns.

The mayor cautioned that the proposal was still in the planning stages, telling reporters: "I think anybody that's going to sit down and wait for the tunnel is - you better drive over and go through the existing ones for the moment."

New Jersey rail commuters have long suffered lengthy delays because of congestion, and analysts warn that this could hurt economic and job growth in the metro area.

New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo had no immediate comment on Bloomberg's statement, first reported by the New York Post. Nor did a spokesman for the construction firm that studied the new subway link to New Jersey.

A spokesman for New Jersey's governor said by e-mail that the Christie administration was "intrigued" by the idea. "We will continue to explore the No. 7 subway plan, its feasibility, benefits and costs with the city and state of New York and the appropriate government agencies in both states," he said.

The cash-hungry Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which would have to build the new subway link, declined to comment. A spokesman would say only that the MTA is focusing on finishing other large projects, including the Second Avenue subway and extending the No. 7 line as far west as Manhattan's Eleventh Avenue.

The current extension of the No. 7 subway line was funded by the city in a bid to push development west of the central business district.

The link was paid for with debt backed by the extra tax revenue the new development is expected to generate. This is a novel financing; it would have been much more typical for the MTA to pay for the new subway link, which is a crucial part of the Hudson Yards development planned for west midtown.

Separately, Tuesday's Wall Street Journal said luxury retailer Coach (COH.N) might become the first tenant of the Hudson Yards development project, which has been slowed by the recession.

Spokesmen for Coach and the developer, the Related Companies, had no immediate comment. (Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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