TRENTON, N.J. – A massive infrastructure project that would relieve rail congestion between Newark and New York City has been sidetracked for almost a decade by funding uncertainties and political posturing. But legislation passed Tuesday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee may be crucial to finally advancing the long-awaited Gateway tunnel construction.
The bill (A5570) creates the Gateway Development Commission, a two-state agency with New York to precipitate the completion of the Gateway Program transportation projects. After clearing the committee with a 10-0 vote, the bill will be considered by the Assembly tomorrow.
“The tunnel is a necessity, not a luxury, for beleaguered commuters on the most congested transportation corridor in the nation,” said Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney, a sponsor of the bill. “This bill represents a solid commitment from both sides of the Hudson to get the improvements on the fast track.”
The measure overhauls the Gateway Development Corporation into a seven-member commission with representatives appointed by both states and Amtrak. Similar legislation must be enacted by New York.
The commission is authorized by the legislation to receive government grants and loans to finance the projects, and costs not covered by the federal government will be split equally between New Jersey and New York.
The keystone of the Gateway Program is the construction of two new rail bridges in the meadowlands, a new tunnel under the Hudson, and the expansion of New York Penn Station. The planned improvements would double train capacity across the Hudson River to 48 trains per hour and allowing high-speed rail service. The project is estimated to be completed by 2026.