On Wednesday in Washington, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao said that three hurdles remain to be cleared before a Gateway Tunnel start.
A decision on the project’s eligibility for Capital Investment Grant (CIG) funding will be the last of those. But USDOT will not consider funding before an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is released by the Federal Railroad Authority (FRA). The Secretary told the Senate Appropriations Committee that the project’s Federal Transit Agency (FTA) rating will need to improve before that.
In 1971, when Amtrak took over the Penn Central Railroad’s inter-city service, NJ Gov. William Cahill called for the construction of another trans-Hudson railroad tunnel. Between 1976 and 2010, the number of NJ Transit weekday trains crossing the Hudson using the North River Tunnels increased from 147 to 438. Currently, the 109-year-old North River Tunnels accommodate nearly 200,000 passengers daily.
The tunnels have an aging electrical system and crumbling concrete walls that were damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. This damage led Amtrak to estimate that one of the two tubes could fail within the next decade. Such a tunnel failure could reduce peak service by 75% and affect the rail corridor, and interstate commerce, between Boston and Washington, D.C.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 x121.