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As We Begin A Summer Of Delays & Pains, Failure to Invest in Gateway Will Mean Future Penn Station Calamities -- Lack of Investment Has Created Present Problem; Schumer & Booker Say If Just One Tunnel Under The Hudson Needed To Close For Repairs, The Delays Could Last A Year

Trump, Secretary Chao Pulled Out of Gateway Development Corporation—Is This Indication Of Lack of Commitment Or Just Bureaucracy? 

President Trump Has Talked About Focusing on Infrastructure; Keeping Commitment on Gateway is First Real Test

Amidst the start of a major repair program that will cause delays for NYC/NJ commuters at Penn Station, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and U.S. Senator Cory Booker today detailed their renewed and urgent push to make timely progress on the critically-needed Gateway Tunnel Project and Portal North Bridge. Schumer and Booker said that the repairs happening this summer at Penn Station demonstrate a dire need to complete the Gateway Program—and soon. Both Senators highlighted why fully funding and making timely progress on  this project gets more and more critical by the day, and made the case—on behalf of millions of transit commuters—for it to swiftly advance. In addition, both Senators made it clear that if progress is not made on the Gateway Tunnel Project the delays this summer will pale in comparison to how bad things will get for commuters in the years to come.

“The delays this summer at Penn Station demonstrate a dire need for investing in infrastructure projects like Gateway sooner rather than later,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “In a matter of years, the only two rail tunnels operating under the Hudson River into Manhattan could become inoperable and if that were to happen, rail delays would become insufferable. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Backing out of the Gateway Development Corporation was a troubling sign that President Trump isn’t serious about this project. But an even more egregious error would be failing to make good on previous commitments to provide the necessary federal funding the Gateway Tunnel Project and the Portal Bridge Project. Failure to do so would have catastrophic impacts on the region and the economy.”

"The nightmare commuters continue to experience gives us a glimpse of the unbearable situation they would endure should a tunnel need to be taken offline. ‎ Ongoing delays are a direct result of decades of failing to invest in our region’s infrastructure and not only threaten the economic competitiveness of our entire region, but keep thousands upon thousands of New Jerseyans from getting to work, and home to their families, predictably and on time. The Gateway Program is a project of national significance that we have worked tirelessly to advance in order to provide much needed relief to our commuters. Waiting longer will only increase the cost of this critical project, which is why I am committed to working with our partners to get this done,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker.

In the Northeast alone, each day 750,000 people travel on rail systems from Washington, DC to Boston, contributing $50 billion to our national economy. The Northeast Corridor consists of 8 commuter railroad systems (including Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Rail Road and New Jersey Transit), and 4 freight railroad systems that carry shale oil, coal, and other goods to and from ports. Overall, the corridor includes a total of 2,000 daily trains. In its current state, service disruptions on the Northeast Corridor alone cost the national economy over $500 million per year and a loss of transit service on the Corridor for a single day would cost the US $100 million. 

Schumer and Booker today said that the Gateway Tunnel Project is desperately needed, not only for the purpose of transporting millions more workers, tourists and shoppers into and out of New York City each day, but also because the two tunnels that currently carry rail traffic under the Hudson River and into Manhattan will soon become inoperable. The Gateway program includes building two new tunnels under the Hudson to replace these outdated ones. Schumer and Booker explained that by building a new tunnel, delays could be mitigated if a tunnel breaks down.

Despite the importance of the Gateway Tunnel Project, Schumer and Booker said that President Trump has not yet fully committed to the project. Instead, President Trump’s proposed budget slashes $760 million in federal funds for Amtrak, virtually eliminates the New Starts program—which helps fund the new Gateway Tunnel Program—and cuts the Highway Trust Fund, which is the primary source of funding for States and the MTA to receive federal dollars for repairs, by $96 billion.

Moreover, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elain Chao recently withdrew from the Gateway Development Corporation, the governing structure that oversees the project.

Schumer and Booker said the repairs and resulting delays this summer at Penn Station highlight the dire need for a federal commitment to the Gateway Tunnel Project. That’s because, Schumer and Booker said, a failure to invest in this project will mean future Penn Station calamities that are even worse than those occurring this summer. Schumer and Booker explained that if just one tunnel under the Hudson River needed to close for repairs, the delays could last a year

Today, Schumer and Booker said that President Trump has talked about focusing on infrastructure and therefore, the President should commit to the Gateway Tunnel Project. Schumer and Booker went on to say that the Gateway Tunnel Project, arguably the most important transportation project in the nation, is the President’s first real test as to whether he is absolutely serious about his commitment to prioritizing infrastructure.