Moving the Gateway Program Forward
There is no more urgent infrastructure project in America than the effort to rebuild the century-old tunnel under the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey with the rest of the Northeast Corridor. Here, in the busiest section of the NEC, 450 trains and 200,000 passenger trips rely on just two tracks that are increasingly unreliable and were severely damaged by Super Storm Sandy. In a region that contributes 10% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, the Hudson Tunnel Project – a key component of the broader Gateway Program – is without a doubt a project of national significance.
Amtrak and its partners in the Gateway Program have made significant progress toward construction of a new tunnel but there is more work to do and no time to lose. The tunnel is becoming less reliable every day and loss of this critical link would have dramatic impacts that ripple throughout the national economy.
We need the Federal government to join us today so we can get shovels in the ground and start major construction. Last week, after touring the existing tunnel to see its condition up close, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a video to President Trump urging him to expedite this critically important project. We encourage you to view and share the video, which does an excellent job of explaining the situation.
Across the river in New Jersey, the other major element of the Gateway Program now moving forward is the replacement of another piece of century-old infrastructure – the Portal Bridge. For over 100 years, this moveable bridge has had to rotate open to allow boats to pass bringing the NEC to a halt. Due to its age, the bridge sometimes fails to close properly, causing delays that cascade through the network.
Amtrak and its partners at NJ TRANSIT are ready to build a new Portal North Bridge that will be high enough over the water to not require opening and closing. A fixed-span will be safer and more reliable, allowing NJ TRANSIT to run longer, double-decker trains – increasing capacity by more than 10 percent.
The State of New Jersey has committed $600 million toward construction of a new Portal Bridge and early construction work is already underway. A finger pier to accommodate delivery of construction materials stands ready for use. Bridge supports have been placed and new utility poles are being built out of the way of the new alignment. These poles will carry the high-voltage power lines that power Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT trains that cross the new Portal North Bridge on their way to and from New York.
Amtrak and its partners are doing everything we can to expedite these projects but in order to start major construction, Federal funding is needed. For too long this country has neglected to invest in infrastructure – it’s time to pay it forward for the next generation and build 21st century infrastructure of which America can be proud.