Schumer, Buttigieg Vow to Advance NYC Gateway Tunnel After Tour

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg vowed to advance a long-delayed rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey using money expected to be appropriated this year.

“We are full speed ahead to get Gateway done,” Schumer, also a New York senator, said in a press conference after touring the tunnels leading into New York’s Penn Station with Buttigieg on Monday. Schumer said he’s pushing to get construction started as soon as next year.

“The building plan is now sometime in 2023,” he said. “We’re trying to get it moved up to 2022. I have a lot of hope with all this enthusiasm that we can do that.”

The project stalled under former President Donald Trump who in 2018 threatened to shut down the government if a spending bill directed federal funding for the tunnel. Gateway was ineligible for federal taxpayer money, the Trump administration said, because New York and New Jersey hadn’t pledged enough cash.

Schumer, Buttigieg Vow to Advance NYC Gateway Tunnel After Tour

The tunnel would carry Amtrak and New Jersey Transit commuter trains under the Hudson River. Amtrak says Gateway will accommodate twice as many trains through the tunnel, including those that are part of its Northeast Corridor service that connects Boston, New York and Washington.

Congress is expected to consider approving a bipartisan infrastructure plan this summer that contains $49 billion for public transit and $66 billion for Amtrak as well as commuter and freight railways.

“We in the Senate and the House will be able to procure in the two bills we are doing, the traditional infrastructure bipartisan bill and in the budget reconciliation bill, the billions of dollars we need to build Gateway,” Schumer said. “And Secretary Buttigieg has pledged to remove all of the bureaucratic and other barriers, so once we allocate that money, once we approve that money, things will move very quickly.”

Buttigieg toured the tunnels with Schumer and both commented Monday on how Amtrak and New Jersey Transit’s sole link between New Jersey and New York, which is more than a century old, was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, leading to corrosion.

“We just saw in the Hudson River tunnels, the bridges and the other parts in what makes up the future Gateway Project, critical infrastructure for the United States of America,” Buttigieg said. “The impacts of this corridor are so great that if there were a loss of service, if one of these tunnels were to go out of service, you would be feeling the impact back in Indiana where I come from. That’s how important this is.”

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