- Published: 13 January 2017
- Written by John Bobsin
The newly formed Gateway Development Corporation, at a meeting on January 12, took the first steps in planning funding for new rail tunnels under the Hudson River, according to reporting by Larry Higgs for N.J. Advance Media (and printed in the Star-Ledger on January 13). The Corporation's mission is to secure low-interest loans to finance the tunnels and other components of the Gateway project, which includes a new rail bridge over the Hackensack River, a loop connection at Secaucus that would allow single-seat rail service to Penn Station in New York from the Main/Bergen/Pascack lines, an annex to Penn Station, and other improvements. The total cost has not be accurately estimated but might be on the order of $23 billion. The first step taken by the Corporation was to execute an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Planning for the Gateway Development Corporation began 14 months ago with an announcement by U.S. Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Schumer (D-NY) that the U.S. would finance half the cost of the project, the other half to be borne by the two states. The Development Corporation would oversee planning, environmental studies, engineering, and construction.
In confirmation hearings in progress, Elaine Chao, president-elect Trump's designee for Secretary of Transportation, said that while she hadn't been briefed on the project, said "I would assume that any project in New York, New Jersey would be very important going into the future."
The Lackawanna Coalition believes that new tunnels under the Hudson should be the top priority; the other improvements, while they may be important in the long run, should not delay the tunnel project. The Coalition believes that new tunnels could be built for a fraction of the total cost of the ambitious Gateway project. Failure of one of the existing tunnels would be a catastrophe for the entire region, and must be avoided at all costs.