NJ, NY senators advocate for Gateway Tunnel funding

July 10, 2017 | Transportation
Booker and Schumer used this summer's work to push for Gateway Tunnel funding.

By Briana Vannozzi

Train after train unloaded at New York’s Penn station and nearby PATH stops without a hint of disruption.

“The earlier one was really packed, but the one I’m coming off now was just fine,” said Hoboken commuter Sarah Schreiver.

“It was on time more today than it has been in the last two months,” said NJ transit commuter Karyn Reinert. You think this summer of hell was hyped up? “A lot of it is, but I’m sure, I mean I’m one of the lucky ones.”

The morning commute from Newark Penn Station to New York went off without a hitch. Commuters from all different lines seemed pleasantly surprised, anticipating heavier crowds, standing room only.

“I thought it was going to be a little crazy because I know Penn Station is going to become a little complicated, but no, it was fine. It was all good,” said Schreiver.

“You can handle delays once in a while, but the unpredictably we are facing now is a major issue. Everyone’s standing there on pins and needles — are we going to get there or not,” said NJ transit commuter Kamal Kajlna.

NJ transit and Amtrak representatives were on the scene, outfitted in bright yellow vests to help with commuter troubles. The $40 million worth of track repairs will affect in some shape or form the 650,000 passengers who pass through NY Penn every day.

“This is the first real test whether President Trump will put his money where his mouth is and fund infrastructure here in New York and throughout America,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Chuck Schumer used today as an opportunity to renew their push for the Gateway Tunnel project. New estimates say it’ll cost upwards of $13 billion to build a second rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey.

“This pain people are feeling right now is a mere rainstorm compared to the tsunami that people will feel if these rail tunnels have to be shut down to be repaired. Instead of a problem lasting weeks, it’ll be a problem lasting more than a year,” said Booker.

President Trump proposed scrapping a grant program that would cover roughly half the cost. The federal Department of Transportation recently pulled out from Gateway’s board.

“We’re not saying he’s ‘no’, but he hasn’t said ‘yes’ and we’re all here to urge him to say a loud ‘yes’,” said Schumer.

Today, the senators called it the most critical infrastructure project in all of America, blaming years of neglect and Gov. Chris Christie for pulling out of the planned ARC tunnel project that would have been complete next year.

“One day of the Northeast Corridor being down, just one day, costs about $100 million in productivity, one day. Imagine what it would be like to have those problems for more than a year if we don’t invest in the infrastructure,” said Booker.