Bloomberg, whose administration more than a year ago pitched the concept of extending the No. 7 train to the Garden State, was responding to comments by the chief of the city's subways, who said he couldn't see extending the system under the river "in our lifetime" or "anybody's lifetime."
"It would be great if it happened," Bloomberg said. "I think having more tunnels over to New Jersey will help both New Jersey and New York City. ... It would clean the air, because there would be less traffic jams in the tunnels and the bridges."
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota told business leaders at the New York Building Congress earlier Tuesday that the extension to New Jersey was "not going to happen."
"The expense of it is beyond anything that we're doing," he said. "You'd have pricing issues that you'd have to deal with. You'd have to have yards in New Jersey. Of course New Jersey would like to have it, because they think they'll be able to get across the river for $2.25. Not a chance."
Bloomberg, calling Lhota a "realist," acknowledged it was "very hard to see" how extending the subway to Jersey could be funded.
A subway line running under the river could cost billions of dollars, though a spokesman for the MTA said he did not immediately have an estimate of the projected cost. Aging rail tunnels between the two states operate packed at rush hour.
Lhota said he supported an Amtrak plan to build a 9-mile trans-Hudson rail crossing tunnel from Secaucus, N.J., to New York.
"I do think the Amtrak approach, especially when we're talking about real high-speed rail ... that's something I support and the MTA is behind," he said.
U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, of New Jersey, said following Lhota's comments that the Gateway Tunnel was "the best option" for his state and "the entire region." The senator secured $15 million to begin the design and engineering work on the tunnel.
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