TRENTON – A joint resolution sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Joseph Lagana urging Congress and President Trump to provide half of the funding for the Gateway rail project was approved by the full Senate yesterday.
“There is no more important infrastructure project in the United States than Gateway,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “The Northeast Corridor is literally a driving economic force from Washington, D.C., up to Boston. Governor Christie foolishly cancelled the fully funded ARC tunnel leaving New Jersey commuters in the lurch.
“And that was before Superstorm Sandy flooded the two-tube, 100-year-old tunnel. The saltwater damage can only be repaired by closing each tube for a year. If that happens while there is still no alternative tunnel operable, regional rail traffic will be crippled beyond belief for two consecutive years. There is no Democratic or Republican side to a rail tunnel – this crosses party lines. But if we do not secure Gateway funding soon, tens of thousands of commuters will not be crossing the Hudson in less than two decades.”
“The Gateway Project is vital to our regional economy, especially the residents I represent,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “During Superstorm Sandy the Hudson River rail tunnel was heavily damaged by sea water, which will cause it to fail, unless there is rehabilitation. That would wreak havoc on transit along the Northeast Corridor, creating a nightmare scenario for commuters and businesses.
“It cannot be understated how critical this project is to the entire region. The Trump administration inexplicably walked back a commitment that federal funding would cover half the project. We must fight to ensure the economic value of building Gateway is recognized and make it understood that there is no time left to delay.”
In 2015, the federal government agreed to pay half the costs of Gateway, which includes several large rail-related projects in addition to the construction of a new Hudson River rail tunnel. Gateway will also include among other things, the construction of an adjacent station to Penn Station in midtown and the rebuilding of the Portal Bridge, a swing railroad bridge spanning the Hackensack River that dates back to 1910.
The Northeast Corridor serves 800,000 riders and various industries on 2,000 commuter, intercity and freight trains daily. It is estimated that a one-day loss of service along the Northeast Corridor would result in the loss of $100 million to the U.S. economy.
The joint resolution, SJR-80, was approved by a vote of 40-0.