The New York metropolitan region risks enormous commuting and economic disruption unless a new Hudson River rail tunnel project known as Gateway is built between New York and New Jersey, some of the region’s top elected officials warned at a Dec. 12 event hosted by Regional Plan Association and the Association for a Better New York.
Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Chuck Schumer of New York urged the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump to move forward on the tunnel project. The senators were joined at the discussion by Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia and by Scott Rechler, the chairman and CEO of RXR Realty and chairman of RPA.
“If it doesn’t happen, there are devastating consequences,” Sen. Schumer said. “We don’t build this, and these tunnels fail, the whole economy will collapse. There will be a deep recession in the New York metropolitan area and a recession probably in the whole country.”
Damage from saltwater flooding during Hurricane Sandy has been eating away at the walls of the existing tunnels, which were built more than a century ago and need to be closed for extensive repairs. The Gateway project also includes an expansion of Penn Station and other major improvements along the rail corridor to fix decaying structures that regularly cause extensive delays. Once the new tunnel is built and repairs to the existing tunnels are completed, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit will be able to run more trains during rush hour and cut down on the delays that plague commuters today.
Gateway has been called the most important infrastructure project in the country, underpinning the region’s $1.5 trillion economy. In an agreement struck last year, the federal government and Amtrak agreed to cover 50% of the estimated $20 billion cost of the project, with the other half to be split between New York and New Jersey.
During a panel discussion moderated by RPA President Tom Wright, those present said they were optimistic that the incoming Trump administration would support the project. “I think they recognize that to make America great again, they’ve got to make our infrastructure great again,” Rechler said during the discussion.