Newark – Senator M. Teresa Ruiz today joined Governor Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr. and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at Newark Penn Station in urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to come to New Jersey to get a firsthand look at the state’s mass transportation system. Senator Ruiz said the visit would demonstrate the importance of the transit system to the regional and national economies and the critical need for the federal government to preserve and expedite funding for the Gateway Rail Tunnel project.
“The recent train derailments and the apparent mechanical failure that stranded more than 1,000 passengers in the tunnels between New Jersey and New York last week demonstrated the critical importance of the Gateway tunnel project,” said Senator Ruiz, who represents the City of Newark. “Any problem along our regional rail lines creates a domino effect, leading to massive delays along the entire system. We must make this investment in our mass transit infrastructure and federal funding is critical to the project.”
Newark Penn Station is the busiest rail station in New Jersey, followed by Secaucus and Hoboken, with nearly 30,000 people traveling through Newark Penn Station on NJ Transit each day, the senator noted. Another 26,000 PATH riders and 2,000 Amtrak passengers get on and off at Penn Station daily and thousands more travel into the station by bus and Newark Light Rail.
“Delays and disruptions have an impact on families who are not able to get to work, or home at the end of the day. They also have an impact on businesses that rely on a workforce traveling on these trains. The new Gateway tunnel project – including the new rail tunnels, the addition of two tracks between Newark and Secaucus and expansion of New York Penn Station – will double capacity to New York,” said Senator Ruiz. “It will also increase safety that has been lacking.”
The Senator added that if either of the two tunnels under the Hudson that were damaged by Sandy is forced to close over the next decade before the Gateway project is completed, we would lose 75 percent of our rail capacity to New York. This would create a commuter catastrophe not only for 60,000 commuters that would be displaced, but for PATH riders, bus commuters and motorists that would have to deal with additional congestion.
“Investing in our transportation infrastructure is critical to ensuring New Jersey families have a safe and reliable means of transportation. It is also the best way to spur economic growth in New Jersey. We took action at the state level, by passing a $2 billion-a-year Transportation Trust Fund that provides needed investment in mass transit as well as our roads and bridges,” said Senator Ruiz. “We look forward to showing the federal transportation secretary just how important not only the rail tunnel, but Newark Penn Station and our entire rail system, is to our economy and to the nation.”