U.S. Senate Approves Funding For NJ-NY Rail Tunnel Design

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved a funding measure that includes a minimum of $15 million for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the proposed Gateway Tunnel project yesterday, New Jersey’s senators announced.

Amtrak’s proposed tunnel would expand commuter railroad capacity between New York and New Jersey, paving the way for expanded high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor. The new tunnel proposal largely follows the footprint of the ARC Tunnel project cancelled by Gov. Chris Christie last year, but it would connect to an expanded New York Penn Station rather than ending deep under West 34th Street in Manhattan.

U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

“The Gateway Tunnel is critical for New Jersey commuters and the economy of our state and the entire region,” said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ). “The existing tunnel is more than a century old and not capable of adequately servicing our region’s growing number of transit riders. This funding will allow Amtrak to begin moving the Gateway Tunnel project forward to create jobs, increase access to commuter trains, and bring America’s first real high-speed rail project to New Jersey and the Northeast Corridor.”

“Building our mass transit infrastructure is vital to the long-term economic competitiveness and growth of our metropolitan region,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). “The fact that even Amtrak is working to make this happen shows how important it is to the region’s job growth and economic future. This proposal is a positive step in the effort to cover a gaping hole in our cross Hudson transportation system,”

“People crossing the Hudson River are facing outrageous tolls, traffic jams, and train service that is getting less and less reliable,” said Sen Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “The Gateway Project will add enormous capacity across the Hudson and also pave the way for true high speed rail for the entire region. This will create jobs now and unlock enormous economic opportunity in the future.”

Increased traffic and congestion into midtown Manhattan and in New York City threatens the regional economy. The existing 100-year-old rail tunnels into midtown Manhattan are already operating at capacity during rush hour, and ridership is expected to double in the next two decades.

To address these immediate concerns following the cancellation of the ARC Tunnel project, Amtrak expedited plans to build the new trans-Hudson rail tunnels. The Gateway Tunnel project is expected to increase NJ Transit commuter rail capacity into New York by 65 percent (increase from 20 to 33 trains per hour during peak hours), in addition to adding eight additional Amtrak trains during peak hours.

In addition to increasing the number of NJ Transit and Amtrak trains into and out of New York, the project will also expand high-speed rail service on the Northeast Corridor.

The funding bill that contains $15 million for Gateway must now be merged with the House of Representatives’ version of the bill.

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