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Poll: What’s the Best Way to Get Going on Gateway Project?

The proposed rail tunnel would be a lifesaver for commuters and cargo, but who’s going to pay for it?

The proposed Gateway tunnel project, which would build two new rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey, is getting a lot of attention this summer. Estimated to cost about $15 billion, the proposed project has been put on the front burner by the Obama administration and others after reports gave a clear indication of the state of disrepair of the current Hudson River tunnels.

Amtrak recently announced that each of the tunnels, already heavily congested with rail traffic, will have to be closed in the not-too-distant future for at least a year to repair damage from superstorm Sandy. If so, that would impact the entire Northeast and damage the national economy. The rail lines leading to the tunnels are also in such bad shape that they’ve been causing commuting nightmares.

Gov. Chris Christie cancelled a similar project, called ARC (Access to Region’s Core), shortly after he took office, saying the state could not afford it. Six years later the problem with transportation funding has only gotten worse, both on the state and federal levels. And New York doesn’t seem to want to take part in the project, with its governor indicating it’s a New Jersey problem.

What should New Jersey do?

  • Transportation is central to New Jersey’s economy -- as a bedroom community to New York City, a distribution point for the Northeast, and a highly urban state with the need to reduce reliance on cars to get from place to place. New Jersey needs to meet with the federal government to come up with a plan to fix this problem fairly and quickly -- with or without New York’s full participation.

  • Why isn’t the NY/NJ Port Authority taking over this project? It seems to be perfectly aligned with its mission -- much more so than owning real estate. It needs to come up with a local match to federal dollars and get this done as soon as possible. It would mean New York City would be a full partner, and it would relieve New Jersey of direct responsibility

  • U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is right – the problem is money. It’s easy to say that the federal government should fix the problem because it’s a national issue, but with this Congress you can’t bank on that. A separate corporation made up of all the players -- the federal government, the Port Authority of NY/NJ, Amtrak, both states, and New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority -- is needed to shake the quarters out of the sofa cushions. Who should be in charge? That remains to be seen.

  • I like Martin Robins’ idea of using this crisis to fix long-simmering problems – like the poor condition of Penn Station New York. The Port Authority could oversee construction of the tunnels and work on ways of using air rights and other real-estate solutions to get money to pay back the cost of the tunnels. But what I really hope is that NJ Transit and the Long Island Railroad take control of that station. It’s a mess!

  • I just don’t see this as that big a deal. The only people who care about this are those who commute into Manhattan. New Jersey has bigger infrastructure problems. And it sounds like the NY/NJ Port Authority is a nest of corruption. Why give them more money to waste? If it’s a national issue, the federal government should pay for it and control it. End of story.

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