Senate, Assembly inquiry comes as concerns mount over federal commitment to Gateway Tunnel, Portal Bridge projects
TRENTON – Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblyman John McKeon today announced that the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee will hold a joint hearing on July 19 to assess the progress of New York Penn Station repairs and the impact on commuters.
“The closure of multiple New York Penn Station tracks to NJ Transit trains will have a severe impact on the lives of tens of thousands of New Jersey commuters,” said Senator Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic), who rode with commuters from Fair Lawn to Hoboken to assess the response of NJ Transit, PATH and New York Waterways to the crisis. “Ten days into the track closures is a logical time to take a hard look at the progress of repairs, the impact on the lives of commuters, and how the various transit agencies are working together.”
“Our mass transit system is always the lifeblood of our economy, no matter the time of year,” said Assemblyman McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “These track closures are a risk to our state’s economic wellbeing and a major inconvenience for the working people of New Jersey who rely on them each and every workday. We need to know how this work is progressing and what type of adverse impact it’s having on our economy and the lives of our commuters and their families.”
NJ Transit, Amtrak, PATH and New York Waterways officials are invited to the Wednesday, July 19, hearing, which will be held at 10 a.m., in Committee Room 4 in the State House Annex in Trenton.
Senator Gordon and Assemblyman McKeon said the New York Penn Station work underscores the need for the federal government to immediately authorize funding for the Gateway Rail Tunnel and Portal Bridge projects.
“The lack of commitment by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress is troubling,” said Senator Gordon. “Instead of losing 25 percent of capacity line we are now, we would lose 75 percent of capacity if one of the existing rail tunnels has to close for repairs before the new Gateway Tunnels are built. Sixty thousand NJ Transit rail commuters would have to find other ways to get to Manhattan. Instead of the ‘Summer From Hell,’ it would be ‘Commuter Armageddon.'”
“Whether it’s Gov. Christie stripping away the funding for a new tunnel or the missing-in-action Trump administration and Republican Congress, we are seeing a complete lack of leadership when it comes to advocating on behalf of our commuters and supporting our economy,” said Assemblyman McKeon. “If these last few months haven’t shocked people into action, then I don’t know what could. We need to stand up for our commuters and we need to keep a close eye on what is going on with these track closures. Our future depends on resolving this situation the best way possible.”
Construction work on the decrepit Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River will be ready to start next month, and the Gateway Rail Tunnel project completed its draft Environmental Impact Statement review last Thursday.
New Jersey and New York State funding is in place for the projects, but the White House and Congress have yet to commit the federal share of funding needed for the projects, the New Jersey legislators noted.