Gateway Program: Not Just a Commuter IssueEach month a Member OpEd is featured.This month's contributor is Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities, and is titled: “Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure is a Local-Federal Partnership”. Below are the first two paragraphs of this month’s OpEd:
The Gateway Program, which includes construction of a new Hudson River tunnel and replacement of the Portal North Bridge, is described as the most important infrastructure program in the country. That statement hits especially close to home for many New Jersey municipalities with residents and businesses dependent on safe and efficient travel in and out of New York. And, this is not just a commuter issue.
There really is no time to waste. The existing 107-year-old tunnel, badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy, is the only passenger rail link connecting New Jersey to Manhattan and in desperate need of repair. The 103-year old Portal Bridge repeatedly malfunctions and is unable to close after boats pass, causing major train delays and worse, cancellations. The impact to NJ commuters simply trying to get to work and home again has caused many to reconsider where to buy a home or locate a business. This is certainly a frustrating experience, but would pale in comparison to the catastrophic conditions that would result if even one tube in the tunnel is forced to shut down for emergency repairs. Further, Amtrak has already announced that each of the tunnel tubes will need to be closed for a year within the next 15 to 20 years for extensive repairs.