The Build Gateway Now Coalition issued a statement on Jan. 10 in response to President Donald Trump’s comments that, “America’s most critical infrastructure projects have been tied up and bogged down by an outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process, and I’ve been talking about it for a long time,” and that “[t]he builders are not happy. Nobody’s happy.”
“President Trump continues to talk out of both sides of his mouth on infrastructure, simultaneously tipping the scales for some projects while at the same time holding up the nation’s most urgent infrastructure need, the Hudson River Tunnel,” Build Gateway Now Campaign Manager Brian Fritsch said in a statement.
Build Gateway Now is a coalition of more than 40 civic, labor, business, and elected groups who consider Gateway a critical priority for the region and the nation’s economy. The nonprofit Gateway Development Corp. is leading the $14.3 billion-plus infrastructure project to replace the 110-year-old rail tunnels and the 110-year-old Portal Bridge, which spans the Hackensack River between Secaucus and Kearny.
Gateway trustees say the project is being delayed due to the federal government not approving federal money.
“If the President wants to make builders happy and cut red tape, he can start by pushing the U.S. DOT [Department of Transportation] to approve the Hudson Tunnel Environmental Impact statement, which has now been languishing on a desk in Washington for nearly two years, longer than it took to create the document itself,” Fritsch added. “What makes this situation even more infuriating is that the tunnel project doesn’t need a relaxation of environmental standards to move forward. The project, when completed, will take thousands of cars off the road and improve health and safety outcomes for countless commuters and residents of New York and New Jersey.
Beginning in 2020, each additional day that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the U.S. DOT delays reaching a decision on the Hudson Tunnel’s EIS increases the cost of the project by $1.2 million, according to an updated financial plan submitted by the Gateway Development Corp. and its partners in August 2019, according to Build Gateway Now Coalition.
“If the President fails to act he is putting the national economy and the livelihoods of thousands at serious risk,” Fritsch said.
Build Gateway Now Coalition members have pushed for months to support the approval of the Environmental Impact Statement. They also released a count-up clock on the organization’s website to track time passed since March 30, 2018.