WASHINGTON, DC – During a hearing held today by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) condemned the Trump Administration’s two-year delay in moving the critical Hudson Tunnel Project forward. The administration refused to meet a March 2018 deadline to approve a required environmental review of the vital infrastructure project, despite repeated urging from Booker and others.
“I've been working in a bipartisan manner with people on this committee and others to advance this project and now we're facing holdups within the Trump administration that are pure politics. There's no way to deny that,” Booker stated during the hearing. “It is so offensive to me that this project is being stalled because of politics, and really unacceptably hurting this country, our economy and the well-being of families in New Jersey and beyond.”
The Hudson Tunnel Project is just one component of the larger Gateway Program, a comprehensive project including strategic rail infrastructure improvements designed to improve current services and increase capacity. In order to evaluate the potential impact on humans and the environment of projects like the Hudson Tunnel Project, an environmental review process that includes a public comment period is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
While the environmental review was submitted by partners to US DOT in just under 24 months, demonstrating an incredible achievement for a project this size, the Trump Administration has refused to allow it to move forward.
Booker also highlighted the potential for infrastructure investment in projects like Gateway to help jumpstart the economy following the significant downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was a former mayor, who was in office during the Great Recession. I just know firsthand, that during economic downturns like we're in right now, local governments face challenges, and right now there is an additional need for federal infrastructure investment to rebuild our nation's infrastructure and address a lot of the economic challenges we have,” Booker continued. “If we do not act immediately to advance the Gateway Program, not only will New Jerseyans continue to suffer, but it will cause harm to the entire Northeast region because of the countless hours of delay.”
Booker has been a fierce advocate for the Gateway Program since coming to Washington in 2013, working with state and federal leaders to advance the critical infrastructure program through legislation, funding, and project development.
In helping to jumpstart the long-stalled project, Booker convened a meeting in his office with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), then-Governor Chris Christie, and then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to discuss governance funding for Gateway. Coming out of that meeting, state and federal leaders from New York and New Jersey announced they reached an agreement on funding commitments and a governance structure that would allow the Gateway Tunnel Project to move forward.
As the top-ranking Democrat on the Surface Transportation Subcommittee, Booker was instrumental in helping include key provisions to support Gateway in a massive federal transportation law, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, that passed the Senate and was signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act was the first federal law in over ten years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation.
Specifically, Booker helped secure provisions enabling Amtrak -- for the first time -- to reinvest revenue generated from the Northeast Corridor back into the Northeast Corridor and making federal low-interest loans more accessible for large rail projects like Gateway, thereby unlocking much-needed capital for these types of projects. These measures were based off two separate bills Booker authored and introduced into Congress: the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act and the Railroad Infrastructure Financing Improvement Act.