U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are enthusiastic after the Federal Railroad Administration released a long-awaited Record of Decision to advance the multi-billion dollar Gateway Tunnel project.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“After three years of politically-motivated delays and attempts by the Trump Administration to derail Gateway, this long-overdue milestone gets us one step closer to building a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel and delivering New Jersey commuters the safe, reliable service they demand and deserve,” Menendez, a senior member of the Senate’s mass transit subcommittee, said in a statement.
“The FRA’s Record of Decision allows us to move forward towards completing the full Gateway Program — the nation’s most important transportation project — that will modernize our rail infrastructure and ensure the region’s long-term economic vitality.”
Recently, Menendez received commitments from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Nuria Fernandez, President Joe Biden’s (D) nominee to be Federal Transit Administrator, to fund the Gateway project.
“I applaud FRA for issuing a final record of decision that will move the Hudson River Tunnel Project into the next phase, marking yet another exciting step toward providing New Jersey commuters the relief they desperately need,” added Booker.
“Since the early meetings of the stakeholders for this project, we affirmed long-term commitments to updating this outdated infrastructure and putting the Gateway Program back on track.”
The Record of Decision was expected on March 30, 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) stated deadline after the EIS was submitted in February 2018 and this morning’s development was also acknowledged by Buttigieg.
“This is a big step for the Northeast, and for the entire country, as these tunnels connect so many people, jobs, and businesses. This decision is also an important reminder that we are still capable of working together to advance ambitious projects that can make life better for people, connect communities, and deliver a stronger future,” he said in his own statement.
“Now we need to make sure to provide the funding America needs to deliver world-leading infrastructure in this region and in every part of the country.”
NJ Transit and the FTA recently finalized a full funding grant agreement for the Portal North Bridge project, a key component of Gateway, allowing it to access over $800 million in federal funding primarily through the CIG program.
After four years of arbitrary delays, unsubstantiated rating cuts and other roadblocks put up during the Trump Administration, the Full Funding Grant Agreement allows construction of a new Portal North Bridge to move forward.
The 110-year-old, antiquated, swing-style span over the Hackensack River in Kearny has long been considered the linchpin of the entire Northeast Corridor (NEC) and the source of major service disruptions for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT riders, and carries an average 450 trains and 200,000 passengers each day.
At one point projected to cost up to $30 billion, the latest estimates have the tunnel down to $11.6 billion.