U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, both Democrats from New Jersey, joined a group of senators from eight states along the Northeast Corridor on Thursday to demand the Federal Railroad Administration finalize and approve plans to advance the Hudson Tunnel Project, a critical element of the Gateway Project.
The U.S. Senate approved legislation on Dec. 19, 2019, that includes $700 million in the fiscal year 2020 budget to replace the Hudson River railroad tunnels.
Gateway Development Corp. is leading a $14.3 billion-plus infrastructure project to replace the 110-year-old Hudson River rail tunnels and the 110-year-old Portal Bridge, which spans the Hackensack River between Secaucus and Kearny. The nonprofit’s three trustees, Steven Cohen, Jerry Zaro and Anthony Coscia, released a 2019 highlight letter calling attention to some of the most significant accomplishments of that year, including a strengthened financial plan that cut $1.4 billion from Hudson Tunnel project costs, passage of bi-state legislation to create the Gateway Development Commission, and efforts to extend the useful lives of the existing Portal Bridge and Hudson Tunnel.
Menendez and Booker say the Federal Railroad Administration has failed to give specifics on when it would finalize and approve the Environmental Impact Statement and issue a final Record of Decision to move the Hudson Tunnel Project into the design and construction phases, despite having received the draft Environmental Impact Statement in July 2017. Menendez and Booker are calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to complete the Gateway Project. Menendez is a ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee.
“It is unacceptable that we have yet to receive a definite timeline for completion of the environmental review,” Menendez and Booker wrote to Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Ronald Batory. “We implore you to provide an update on when we can expect a final EIS and [record of decision] for the Hudson Tunnel Project – including confirmation of the remaining steps necessary to move the project into the design and construction phases. 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.”
A 2019 Regional Plan Association report found that closing either of the Hudson River tunnels “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.”
The letter was also signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Jack Reed. D-R.I.; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Bob Casey, D-Penn.; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.