‘The Nation’s Greatest Infrastructure Priority’

It’s Infrastructure Week! This week RPA Lab is featuring articles about the infrastructure needs of the New York metropolitan region. Stay tuned.

“There’s no greater infrastructure priority in the country than the Gateway project,” Vice President Joe Biden told attendees of the recent RPA Assembly.

The Gateway program is Amtrak’s plan for investing in rail infrastructure in New Jersey and New York, including the construction of new rail tunnels under the Hudson River. The current tunnels, used by Amtrak and NJ Transit, shepherd metro commuters and inter-city travelers from Washington, DC to Boston and are in desperate need of replacement. Built over a century ago, the tunnels were already in need of repair when Superstorm Sandy hit, further damaging the walls and wiring.

What stands in the way? Funding.

Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie have committed to pay for half of the cost of the Gateway project. However, the federal government’s commitment remains unclear as President Trump has moved to eliminate the New Starts program, a likely source of funding for the project.

Despite these challenges and delays, the urgency of this project can’t be overstated. While Amtrak’s summer repairs at Penn Station are anticipated to cause up to a 25 percent reduction in service at the nation’s busiest rail hub, if one of the trans-Hudson rail tunnels were to fail before new tunnels are built, Amtrak and NJ Transit capacity would be reduced by 75 percent.

Learn more about our region’s crumbling infrastructure and the need for new tunnels in our video Tunnel Trouble:

Tunnel Trouble: Crumbling infrastructure is putting the region at risk. from Regional Plan Association on Vimeo.

Photo: Amtrak

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