Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sens. Schumer, Booker renew call to fund Gateway Program

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The existing North River Tunnel, which would be rehabbed and a new tunnel built as part of the Hudson River Tunnel project. The existing North River Tunnel, which would be rehabbed and a new tunnel built as part of the Hudson River Tunnel project. Amtrak

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) renewed their call for the Gateway Program to advance with funding commitments.

 

Both senators point to the repairs that were recently started at New York Penn Station as demonstrating "a dire need to complete the Gateway Program" and say the expected summer delays for New York City and New Jersey commuters "will pale in comparison to how bad things will get" should the Gateway Program not progress.

"In a matter of years, the only two rail tunnels operating under the Hudson River into Manhattan could become inoperable and if that were to happen, rail delays would become insufferable. Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past. Backing out of the Gateway Development Corporation was a troubling sign that President Trump isn't serious about this project. But an even more egregious error would be failing to make good on previous commitments to provide the necessary federal funding the Gateway Tunnel Project and the Portal Bridge Project. Failure to do so would have catastrophic impacts on the region and the economy," said Sen. Schumer.

At the end of June, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) withdrew its position on the Gateway Development Corporation's Board, the governing structure that oversees the project, citing that it is not standard practice for USDOT to do so on other transportation projects.

"The nightmare commuters continue to experience gives us a glimpse of the unbearable situation they would endure should a tunnel need to be taken offline. ‎ Ongoing delays are a direct result of decades of failing to invest in our region's infrastructure and not only threaten the economic competitiveness of our entire region, but keep thousands upon thousands of New Jerseyans from getting to work and home to their families predictably and on time," said Sen. Booker.

The Hudson Tunnel Project, one element of the Gateway Program, published its Draft Environmental Impact Statement on July 6 and both the tunnel project and the Portal North Bridge project entered the project development phase in July 2016, seen as the first step in qualifying for federal funding.

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill proposal on July 10, which is speculated to contain language that marks $500 million for the program under a new grant program called the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants.

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