Four democratic senators from New York and New Jersey are urging U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to visit the rail infrastructure linking to two states to highlight the need for investment in the region's rail and transit infrastructure.
The senators, which include Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), say the series of “crippling delays along the Northeast Corridor” puts a spotlight on the critical need for robust investment in the region.
“As you may know, the last two Secretaries of the Department of Transportation, Anthony Foxx and Ray LaHood, visited New York Penn Station during their tenures to discuss the importance of driving investment to the Northeast Corridor,” the lawmakers wrote. “Following in that tradition, a site visit, particularly one that allows you to witness the volume of passengers at peak travel times, will provide you detailed information about the status of the current infrastructure and the urgent need for federal investments in advancing the Gateway Project.”
The senators pointed to the Trump Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which reduced discretionary funding of the U.S. Department of Transportation, eliminates funding for Amtrak’s long distance trains and reduces or eliminates funding for several popular transportation grants. The senators note that the budget proposal’s zeroing out of the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts capital grant program threatens to terminate work on critical components to the Gateway Program including replacing the century-old Portal Bridge in New Jersey and new trans-Hudson rail tunnels.
In April, Sens. Booker, Menendez and Schumer cited the recent spate of New York Penn Station issues as reason to provide Amtrak with better funding.