WASHINGTON – Bipartisan provisions backed by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) for moving the Gateway Tunnel project forward, have been included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill. The THUD appropriations bill will be considered on the House floor this month and Gottheimer is urging both the House and Senate to pass it quickly.
In April, Gottheimer wrote a letter to the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee urging prioritization of necessary rail infrastructure investment for the proposed Gateway project. Now, Gottheimer’s focus on ensuring federal investment in the Gateway Tunnel project is paying off.
The bill also includes the Gottheimer-cosponsored bipartisan Transportation Funding Fairness Act, which ensures that federal loans which states are required to pay back do not count as the federal share of the project.
“Earlier this month, I went down into the North River Tunnels for a midnight tour with some of my colleagues in Congress — and we saw first-hand that these tunnels are truly crumbling. What’s clear: We must get the Gateway moving now. No more delays. Everyone needs to get to the table, across the aisle, and work together,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I’m glad that the bipartisan provisions that I’m backing will help move Gateway forward. I strongly urge the House and the Senate to pass this legislation quickly.”
Currently, all passenger trains entering and exiting Manhattan use the 111-year-old North River tunnel, a dilapidated two-track tunnel that connects New York to New Jersey, and the rest of the country.
Every day, 200,000 passengers use these tunnel, which connects a region responsible for nearly twenty percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The tunnel was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and engineering analyses indicate that at least one of the tracks will be forced to shut down within the next decade. This would cut capacity by seventy-five percent, from twenty-four trains per hour to six.
A recent study by the Regional Plan Association (RPA) revealed that this would have an immense negative impact on our national economy, as well as public health. A tunnel shutdown could cause our economy to shrink by $16 billion over a four-year span, equivalent to the loss of 33,000 jobs. Additionally, commute times would rise in some cases by more than an hour, due to thousands of additional cars on the road. This could even lead to an additional one-hundred deaths due to traffic accidents and harmful air pollutants.
The Gateway Program will build new, flood-proof tunnels under the Hudson River that would bring one of our most important transportation zones into the 21st Century. This is not just a regional issue, but a national one. Every American could be hurt by the economic impact of a tunnel shutdown, and every American would benefit from Gateway.