U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, of New Jersey, are calling on U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to explain why her department is not acting on the Hudson River railroad tunnels that connect New Jersey and New York City.
Despite repeated formal and informal invitations to visit the current tunnels and the Portal Bridge in New Jersey to learn more about the Gateway Program – a series of infrastructure improvements to the Northeast Corridor – Chao took a personal tour of the project site in April 2018 without members of the Congressional Delegation.
Booker and Menendez asked Chao to explain why the Environmental Impact Statement for the Hudson River tunnel project has not yet been approved by DOT, even though a draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the Federal Railroad Administration and New Jersey Transit was published in June 2017.
The pair also asked Chao why the project received a medium-low rating from the DOT earlier this year, and why the Portal North Bridge project also continues to languish without DOT’s approval.
“We are writing to request information regarding steps the U.S. Department of Transportation has taken to advance the Gateway Project after you personally toured the 100+-year-old crumbling infrastructure in 2018,” Booker and Menendez said. “We would have welcomed the opportunity to join you on the tour to discuss how we could partner to advance the Gateway Project, but please know the invitations we have previously extended still stand.
“While viewing the state of the existing tunnels is a compelling enough sight, we believe you and your team would also benefit from meeting with our constituents, who are impacted each week by countless delays, in order to better understand the urgency of moving the project forward,” they said. “Each day the project is delayed, costs rise, and the economic cost of inaction grows.”