Highlights Importance of Amtrak “Gateway Program”
SAYREVILLE, NJ – In testimony submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, HUD and Related Agencies, Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, Chair of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee urged committee members to maintain MAP-21 authorized levels of funding for both the federal-aid highway program and the federal transit program. The U.S. Congress is currently conducting hearings in anticipation of proposing a FY 2014 federal budget, which would commence on October 1, 2013.
MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. It authorized federal funding for surface transportation projects at over $105 billion for fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014.
“I am very much aware of Congress’ larger responsibility to balance long-term infrastructure investment with scarce financial resources,” stated Assemblyman Wisniewski in his written testimony submitted in his role as Chair of the Council of State Governments, Eastern Regional Conference’s Transportation Policy Committee. “However, I believe it is vital that we do not under invest in the nation’s transportation system; doing so will seriously limit the nation’s ability to compete in the global marketplace while also having a negative impact on safety, mobility and security.”
Among the programs Assemblyman Wisniewski highlighted in his testimony was Amtrak’s “Gateway Program”, which he described as “truly one of national significance” and which would add two new tracks and tunnels from Newark, N.J. to New York Penn Station.
Wisniewski explained the delays and traffic backups caused by the limited existing capacity along the stretch of rail and called the project “the single most important investment needed to unlock the capacity constraints on the Northeast Corridor.” Amtrak has requested $167 million in FY 2014 to start the Portal Bridge construction and do related track work as well as Preliminary Engineering and National Environmental Protection Act activities for the “Gateway Project.”
“Adding two new tracks and tunnels from Newark to serve an expanded Penn Station and the future Moynihan Station is essential to reliably support the roughly 450 trains that use the current tunnels today, and to permit future growth along the entire corridor,” stated Wisniewski.