In conversation with Menendez, Buttigieg commits to funding Gateway Tunnel project

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In a conversation with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg committed to funding the multi-billion dollar Gateway Tunnel project.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Yes, you have our commitment to work with your office, other members of the delegation, and the project sponsors,” Buttigieg said during a Zoom call today.

“This is an example of a project that may be located in one region but is so critical that you would feel it anywhere in the country if there were to be, for example, a failure in one of these critical tunnels. So we’re continuing to see this move along and are committed to working with you to see it go forward.”

His response came after Menendez asked if he would commit to working with project sponsors and congressional delegations to complete the tunnel.

Earlier this month, Nuria Fernandez, President Joe Biden’s (D) nominee to be Federal Transit Administrator, made a similar commitment to Menendez to work with stakeholders to advance Gateway.

Last week, the tunnel received the “Record of Decision” approval of the Environmental Impact Statement to construct two rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey after three years of waiting, as NJ Advance Media reported.

NJ TRANSIT and the FTA recently finalized a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Portal North Bridge project, a key component of Gateway that would carry trains through Kearny, allowing it to access over $800 million in federal funding primarily through the CIG program.

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.

The FTA still must issue a new rating for the project to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River in order for that phase of the Gateway Project to qualify for federal funding.

Completion of this project will allow the old tunnels, which were badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy, to be temporarily taken out of service and repaired.

Should the existing Hudson River tunnels need to be taken out of service without a replacement in place, Amtrak estimates that a shutdown of the NEC could cost the economy nearly $100 million in transportation-related impacts and productivity losses per day.

The project began under President Barack Obama (D) and saw minimal progress before essentially coming to a stand still under President Donald Trump (R), who Menendez sparred with over the massive infrastructure investment.

At one point projected to cost up to $30 billion, the latest estimates have the tunnel down to $11.6 billion.