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Joe Biden update: Now, he thinks N.Y. train tunnel is for cars

June 9, 2009 |  5:01 pm


Joe Biden, who was a train-riding senator for nearly four decades until Democrat Barack Obama had accumulated the $750 million necessary to become president, spent a good deal of vice presidential time Monday on the telephone touting the administration's economic stimulus spending package to New York-area media.

The spending includes something like $7.6 billion eventually for another set of railroad tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan, not unlike the ones above, only naturally with newer graffiti. These would allow for more northern New Jersey train commuters to remain on the same train, rather than changing lines as now required for the last dark leg into lower Manhattan.

As regularly seems to happen, a dispute has developed in the Gotham area. Amtrak fans claim the tunnel should go instead to that line's 34th Street terminal at Penn Station instead of deep beneath 29th Street on the lower West Side.

So a reporter for the Record in Bergen County asked known Amtrak fan Biden about that. Biden, who's been charged by Obama with monitoring and promoting the lagging spending program, had previously sounded slightly defensive over questions about delays in the stimulus spending, saying that despite the urgency of combating the deepening recession, the administration wanted to be careful to avoid "major glitches."

Then, according to The Record, the vice president said:

Look, this is designed, this totally new tunnel, is designed to provide for automobile traffic. It’s something, as you know, up your way, that’s been in the works and people have been clamoring for for a long time.

Maybe there's another car tunnel secretly in the works because Manhattan has a chronic shortage of traffic. But presumably the difference between a railroad and an automobile tunnel will be straightened out before traffic actually starts flowing, or it could be just the kind of messy major glitch that Biden and Obama wanted to avoid.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo: Mike Rosenthal / N.J. Transit (Railroad tunnels like the ones Biden thinks will carry motor vehicles to and from New York City).

Even the vice president can have someone click here for Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or he could have someone follow us @latimestot

H/T Don S.