Menendez & Booker Applaud Improved Hudson River Tunnel Rating Allowing Gateway Project to Advance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) Thursday applauded the Biden Administration’s announcement that the Hudson River Tunnels, a critical piece of the Gateway Project, have received an upgraded “medium-high” rating under the Capital Investment Grants program, making the project eligible to move forward. The current Hudson River rail tunnels were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and will require significant repairs in the coming years. Should the current tunnels need to be taken out of service without a replacement in place, the impact could be devastating for our families, commuters, and economy. Amtrak estimates that an unexpected shutdown of the Northeast Corridor could cost the economy nearly $100 million per day.

“This is a major step towards completing the nation’s most important transportation project, which will modernize our rail infrastructure, get commuters to work, and keep our economy moving forward,” said Sen. Menendez. “After years of politically-motivated delays to derail Gateway by the former administration, I now could not ask for better federal partners who are committed to building new Hudson rail tunnels, completing the Portal North Bridge, and getting the entire Gateway Program done. I thank President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, and Administrator Fernandez for their continued dedication and for recognizing the utter importance of this project. I will continue working with the project’s sponsors and our federal, regional and state partners to ensure we reach our goals and finish the Gateway Project.”


“As a major component of the Gateway Program, the Hudson Tunnel Project will improve commuter safety, help address the myriad of delays that impact the entire Northeast Corridor, and increase our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Sen. Booker. “For years, I have worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure this vital infrastructure project gets the federal investment it deserves and am glad to see this announcement from the FTA which will allow construction to commence and create jobs for our state’s residents.”

The new ratings, which were announced by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today, will make the Hudson River Tunnels eligible to move forward in the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program process, which will ultimately unlock federal funding for the project. The Trump Administration previously gave the tunnel project a “medium-low” rating. Completion of this project will allow the old tunnels to be temporarily taken out of service and repaired. Last year, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approved the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the tunnel project that was delayed more than three years by the Trump Administration.

 “Well-planned, large public transportation projects can transform lives and entire regions by reducing commute times, increasing safety, opening economic opportunities, reducing emissions, and making travel more affordable – and thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can help more communities deliver these benefits,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “For example, the Hudson Tunnel Project will enable a safe, comfortable commute for hundreds of thousands of Americans currently traveling through a tunnel that was built more than 110 years ago.”


“Communities all across our nation are dreaming big and making concrete plans, putting in the time and planning to create transit projects that help people get to work, to shopping, and to visit family and friends?more quickly, easily and safely,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “FTA is proud to support those efforts through the CIG program and thankful to Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration for giving us the tools we need to do so.”

Secretary Buttigieg and FTA Administrator Fernandez committed to Sen. Menendez last year that they would work with stakeholders to advance the Gateway Project.

“I’m glad to see the Federal Transit Authority finally allowing this long overdue project to move forward,” said Congressman Andy Kim (N.J.-03). “Projects like this are the backbone of our regional economy. This one will ease traffic congestion for families, allow more tourism to our beautiful state, and get people back to work. I’m also glad to see that the tunnel will be built with climate friendly technologies to be resilient and ready to meet the needs of the 21st century.”

“If we don’t fix the current train tunnel underneath the Hudson, it’ll literally be a Doomsday. For years, we’ve fought to move forward with the Hudson River Tunnels and the Gateway Project. With this long-deserved rating, we can finally take critical steps to advance the most important infrastructure project in our country, shorten commute times, and help grow our economy,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-05). “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which I am proud to have played a key role in helping shape and pass, we have access to the federal investment we need to make the Gateway Project a reality.”

“Getting this project across the finish line is essential to ensuring long-term reliability for thousands of daily commuters between New Jersey and New York and passengers throughout the Northeast,” said Congressman Frank Pallone (N.J.-06). “I’m hopeful it will now receive the critical federal investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to get it done.”

“Today’s announcement from the Biden Administration is a big win for New Jersey’s commuters, and gets us another step closer to a new tunnel under the Hudson River,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski (N.J.-07). “I’ve been fighting to get Gateway done since my first day in Congress three years ago, and now that we have the funding and approvals, I’m going to work just as hard to speed construction so we start seeing the benefits sooner.”


“The Gateway Tunnel and Portal Bridge projects are long overdue. Now that we finally have a Governor here in New Jersey and a President in Washington who are committed to rebuilding our infrastructure, New Jersey commuters have reason for hope. Today’s announcement brings us one giant leap closer to securing the federal investment needed to build the Gateway Tunnel,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09), a champion of the Gateway Tunnel and Portal Bridge projects in Congress. “Our region’s commuters and travelers deserve to cross under the Hudson River with confidence, and know that they will get to their destination on time, and more importantly, back home to their families on time too. Adding state-of-the-art tunnel capacity to reduce delays and improve safety is exactly what they need. Finally and mercifully, we are closer than ever to our goal.”

“The new Hudson River Tunnels will improve travel, create jobs, and provide a significant boost to our local and national economies,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10). “I am pleased the Biden administration has advanced the project to make it eligible for federal funding.  I have fought for federal funding for these tunnels and the entire Gateway Program since my first day in Congress. I led a letter to President Biden, along with my New Jersey Democratic colleagues, last year to urge the swift approval of this project.  I commend President Biden and his administration for this action and look forward to working with them to get this project completed.”

“The Gateway Project, with the Hudson River Tunnels at its core, is the nation’s most critical infrastructure project. It will significantly improve commuting times and cut travel costs for New Jersey families, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and provide a return on investment to our communities of over 3-to-1,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11). “I have been fighting to finally get the Hudson River Tunnels done since I was first elected to office, and am so excited to see more progress from the FTA today towards this goal. Alongside the Administration’s recent approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement and additional funding for Gateway from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are in a strong position to make this project a reality for our region.”

“The Hudson River tunnels and the broader Gateway Project will  provide a crucial replacement of a century-old tunnel system – one that New Jersey’s commuters cannot do without,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.-12). “This essential infrastructure project will facilitate hundreds of thousands of rail users daily, while also creating jobs and stimulating our economy. For New Jersey’s 12th District and our state as a whole, the construction of the Hudson River tunnels will critically impact travel along the Northeast Corridor and I am thrilled to see this project moving forward in the CIG program process.”

 

In early 2021, NJ TRANSIT and the FTA finalized a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Portal North Bridge project, a key component of Gateway, allowing it to access over $800 million in federal funding primarily through the CIG program. After four years of arbitrary delays, unsubstantiated rating cuts and other roadblocks put up during the Trump Administration, the Full Funding Grant Agreement allows construction of a new Portal North Bridge to move forward. The 110-year-old, antiquated, swing-style span over the Hackensack River in Kearny has long been considered the linchpin of the entire Northeast Corridor (NEC) and the source of major service disruptions for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT riders, and carries an average 450 trains and 200,000 passengers each day.

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