Amtrak accelerates timetable for track repairs; N.J. officials bemoan commuters’ inconvenience

 Workers repair rails inside New York's Penn Station. Accelerated repair work in the wake of recent breakdowns at New York’s Penn Station will begin in May and cause delays this summer for rail travelers who already have endured major disruptions recently, Amtrak officials said Thursday. (Chuck Gomez/Amtrak via AP, file)

Workers repair rails inside New York's Penn Station. Accelerated repair work in the wake of recent breakdowns at New York’s Penn Station will begin in May and cause delays this summer for rail travelers who already have endured major disruptions recently, Amtrak officials said Thursday. (Chuck Gomez/Amtrak via AP, file)

New Jersey commuters can expect more delays into the summer as Amtrak closes and repairs tracks that lead to New York’s Penn Station.

Instead of replacing the aging infrastructure over several years, Amtrak officials plan to work on a series of projects through June of 2018.

Disruptions from the track work are a big inconvenience for thousands of New Jersey commuters, said state Sen. Tony Bucco.

“A lot more now are going into their cars rather than using mass transit. That’s causing congestion on our roads and it’s not tolerable, said Bucco, R-Morris.

Sen. Paul Sarlo said Amtrak’s plan might be the best solution available.

“Some of the work can be could at night, of course, but it’s very limited windows,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen.  “As an engineer, I understand that some of the durations take much longer than just doing them on the overnight periods.

“But we need to make sure that once they start doing these necessary repairs, that they don’t drag out.”

New Jersey Transit executive director Steven Santoro said he also is concerned about potential delays for commuters.

“In our discussions with Amtrak, we will clearly have discussions about what their plan is and how it’s going to disrupt our customers and the severity of the impact,” he said Thursday. “All of that is going to weigh in on our decision to accept the plan or modify the plan.”

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