U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said the $30 billion Gateway Tunnel “is a project of national significance” during a Senate committee hearing earlier today.
“Broadly, Gateway aims to modernize the rail infrastructure along a 10-mile segment of the Northeast Corridor connecting New Jersey to New York Penn Station,” Menendez said.
“This critical stretch of track carries over 200,000 daily Amtrak and NJ Transit passenger trips on approximately 450 trains, and is a linchpin of the entire Northeast Corridor – a region that accounts for 20 percent of our national GDP.”
Today’s witness, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Nuria Fernandez agreed with the critical importance of completing the Gateway Project.
However, when she called it one of “regional significance,” Menendez took it a step further,
“I would say it’s a project of national significance. When you have 20 percent of the entire nation’s GDP generated by the region, this is a lynchpin to mobility for businesses to get workers to work and for people to go to hospitals and a whole host of other things,” he said.
“I think it’s a project of national significance.”
The Northeast Corridor (NEC) Commission estimates that a disruption of the NEC from Boston to Washington, D.C. would cost the country $100 million a day in lost production and economic activity.
Also during the hearing, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) questioned the need for strong federal support for transit agencies in light of lower ridership during the pandemic.
Menendez highlighted the recent report by the Regional Plan Association which confirmed the continued need for the Gateway project and found that trans-Hudson ridership would return to or exceed pre-pandemic levels by the time the new Hudson River tunnels are built, and would exceed pre-pandemic levels by 15-32 percent by 2050.
“So yes, our transit agencies, like other industries, were hit hard by the pandemic, but the fact remains that transit will remain a vital and growing part of our transportation mix, and I’m proud of the much-needed investments that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes in modernizing our transit systems,” he added.
Last week, New Jersey and New York signed a memorandum of understanding, which outlines sources, uses, and timing of funding on behalf of the two states for the Gateway Project, moving the project closer towards completion.