Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Investing in Rail Is Non-Negotiable

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Investing in Rail Is Non-Negotiable

Article excerpt

President Donald Trump promised to invest in infrastructure. He has spoken of the poor conditions of U.S. roads, bridges, tunnels and rail. If there was a silver lining to his presidency in the metropolitan region, it was to be found in a promised $1 trillion infrastructure investment. That made the unveiling of Trump's federal budget Thursday shocking. The proverbial train went off the tracks.

The most critical infrastructure project in this region is Gateway, the name for the estimated $23.9 billion project that would bring trains under the Hudson through a new tunnel and into a new station adjacent to Penn Station in Manhattan. Also included in the plan is the replacement of the Portal Bridge that spans the Hackensack River and is a major contributor to delays on the Northeast Corridor which is shared by Amtrak and NJ Transit.

But as The Record reported, the president's proposed budget will pay only for projects that are in the final contract stage. Gateway has been approved for the New Starts program; it has not progressed to a final contract stage.

Sen. Robert Menendez said, "President Trump's proposal to eliminate the New Starts program -- and the Gateway Project along with it -- is irresponsible, short-sighted and demonstrates a complete failure of leadership."

We agree. And the clock is ticking for commuters,

The existing two-tube Hudson tunnel is more than 100 years old and was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy. It is said to have a shelf-life of 20 years before each tube would have to be closed for repairs. If only one tube is operating when that occurs, the resulting delays would play havoc on rail travel all along the Northeast Corridor, as well as impact regional economies.

Gov. Chris Christie's spokesman Brian Murray issued a statement Thursday evening in response to the proposed Trump budget cuts. …

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