Northeast Democratic Senators Demand Answers on Gateway Project

Eight Democratic Senators, including New Jersey’s Bob Menendez and Corey Booker, want immediate action taken to advance the Gateway Tunnel project.

Days after another evening commute for New Jersey residents using New York’s Penn Station resulted in delays of up to three hours, Senators from the states along the Northeast Corridor are demanding the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) finalize and approve plans to immediately advance the Hudson Tunnel Project, a key piece of the Gateway Project. 

The FRA has failed to give specifics on when it would finalize and approve the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and issue a final Record of Decision to move the Hudson Tunnel Project into the design and construction phases, despite having received the draft EIS in July 2017, according to the letter.

The senators are calling on the Trump Administration to complete the Gateway Project, which includes replacing the 110-year-old Portal Bridge and building a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel.

Timeline Wanted

In the letter, the senators state it is unacceptable a definite timeline for completion of the environmental review has yet to be received.  

“We implore you to provide an update on when we can expect a final EIS and ROD for the Hudson Tunnel Project – including confirmation of the remaining steps necessary to move the project into the design and construction phases,” the senators wrote to FRA Administrator Ronald Batory. “These tubes are old and in need of significant rehabilitation. If they are forced to close, the region would grind to a standstill, and the nation’s economy would suffer immensely.”

The letter cited the 2019 Regional Plan Association report that found closing either of the North River Tunnel’s two tubes “would cost the national economy $16 billion, reduce home values by $22 billion, and lead to decreased economic productivity; job losses; increased congestion and crashes across the northeastern United States.”

Sherrill Shank

The request comes after Rep. Mikie Sherrill blasted a member of the Trump Administration after the nightmare commute on Feb. 3. Sherrill took Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to task after a power failure in the Hudson River Tunnel left thousands of New Jerseyans stranded during their evening commute.

“Secretary Chao jeopardizes the safety of New Jersey commuters by blocking approval for the Gateway Tunnel Project,” said Rep. Sherill. 

In the 2020 budget, Sen. Menendez helped secure $700 million for the Northeast Corridor, which can be used in part to fund the Gateway Project. 

Besides Menendez and Booker, the letter was signed by Democratic senators Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Jack Reed and  Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

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