NEWARK, NJ – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) lauded a series of concrete steps he announced today with New York and New Jersey leaders that would move the Gateway Program forward, including $70 million in funding for preliminary engineering, a Federal pledge to streamline required environmental reviews, and the agreement on an MOU setting forth an interim framework to advance the project as the partners take steps to finalize the development corportation. The Gateway Program is comprised of a number of critical rail infrastructure projects, including the construction of new trans-Hudson River rail tunnels and replacement of the Portal Bridge, that will help improve resiliency and capacity along the Northeast Corridor.
"Following the Gateway framework this coalition announced in November, today’s developments mark yet another important step towards providing relief for New Jersey commuters and affirming a long-term commitment to replacing obsolete infrastructure,” said Sen. Booker, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, which oversees America's rail infrastructure. "Ridership across the Hudson has more than doubled since 1990 and any shutdown of the tunnels for even a single day could cost our regional economy and the nation $100 million in wasted time and lost productivity. Today’s announcement is the product of a shared focus and commitment to this critical project and I will continue to work with the coalition to move us all forward.”
Sen. Booker joined Sens. Menendez and Schumer (D-NY) in December to announce provisions benefiting the Gateway Program that were included in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the first Federal law in over ten years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation. Sen. Booker fought to have several key provisions incorporated into the FAST Act to help provide reliable funding sources for the Gateway Program. These include measures enabling Amtrak for the first time to reinvest revenue from the Northeast Corridor back into the Northeast Corridor and allowing more flexibility in financing for vital infrastructure projects like Gateway by permitting repayment of federal Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans 35 years from project completion.
In August 2015 Sen. Booker convened a meeting in his office with Senator Menendez, Governor Christie and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Foxx to discuss governance and funding for the Gateway Program. Coming out of that meeting, in November Sen. Booker joined Governors Christie and Cuomo and Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand in announcing they reached an agreement on funding commitments and a governance structure that will allow Gateway Tunnel Project to move forward.
"I remain hopeful that provisions I fought for alongside my colleagues to include in the FAST Act will allow us to finally make critical investments in our surface transportation infrastructure, including replacement of the century-old Portal Bridge which has long been a bottleneck for the entire Northeast Corridor,” said Sen. Booker. "Gateway is one of our nation's most significant infrastructure projects, which is why it must remain the number one priority for federal, state, and local officials in order to strengthen our transportation networks and spur economic growth across the region.”
Just last week, Sens. Booker and Schumer led a letter to Federal appropriators calling for robust funding for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor for Fiscal Year 2017, including funding for grant programs authorized in the FAST Act to help address the state of good repair backlog along with safety improvements.