The Gateway tunnel has suffered another setback at the hands of the Trump administration.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said that an environmental impact report — which would allow the project to receive federal funding — will continue to be delayed, NJ.com reported. The Federal Railroad Administration had initially set a March 2018 deadline for the report.
In 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie agreed to fund the states’ portion of the project, committing $5.5 billion, which would connect New Jersey’s Bergen Palisades to Penn Station in New York. The roughly $11 billion tunnel would be part of a broader passenger-rail infrastructure upgrade that could cost about $30 billion or more.
President Barack Obama pledged in 2015 to fund about half of the infrastructure project, which is a crucial part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. But in 2017, the Trump administration scrapped that deal. Last year Gateway received a low priority rating from the Federal Transit Administration and was left out of Trump’s budget.
The project includes repair of the two century-old rail tunnels under the Hudson River, which allow trains to move in both directions simultaneously. The tunnels sustained severe damage during Superstorm Sandy and continue to degrade. Should one of them have to be closed, rail capacity between New York and New Jersey during peak hours would be reduced by 75 percent, dealing a major blow to the regional economy, experts say.
The Gateway project calls for construction of a new tunnel, which would then allow for the temporary closure and repair of the old ones with no loss in rail traffic. [NJ.com] — Georgia Kromrei