April 27, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—At the Regional Plan Association’s annual Assembly at the Waldorf Astoria the chairman of Amtrak announced that the national passenger railroad company would be advancing $300 million of its own funds toward building a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel to replace the existing tunnel that’s over 100 years old.
Soon after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceled the Access to the Region’s Core project in 2010 because he believed that New York wasn’t contributing its fair share for a new tunnel, Amtrak announced the Gateway Project, which calls for a new two-track Hudson River tunnel, two new bridges over the Hackensack River and an expanded Penn Station. So far Amtrak has received about $45 million since 2012 for planning and pre-construction work on Gateway, but the total cost is about $20 billion.
In the accompanying video, we interviewed Anthony Coscia, Amtrak’s chairman of the board, who said that while the $300 million investment is significant for Amtrak, it is still a fraction of the overall cost.
“Gateway is a very big initiative and $300 million is a relatively small amount in light of what we really need to accomplish, but it shows that we are serious about it. We’re investing right now in the design work that’s necessary in the early years of the project so that over the next 10 years we’ll be able to make an investment of somewhere between $15 to $20 billion, an investment that is absolutely critical,” said Coscia.
Congress has yet to approve all the funding, but local leaders such as New Jersey Senate President’s Steve Sweeney told LaborPress in an interview in March that the Port Authority of NY&NJ could sell some of its real estate assets to completely fund Gateway. Mr. Coscia appreciates the Senator’s efforts.
“He’s been someone who for a long time has been a strong advocate for investing money in infrastructure that puts people to work now building it and then pays dividends to the people who use that infrastructure for a long time.”
On jobs, Mr. Coscia said that thousands of jobs could be created not only building Gateway but also Amtrak’s proposed high-speed rail corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C.
“Something like that could create thousands of jobs over the next 20 years. It’s the kind of investments that the federal government, state governments and regional authorities [should be making] in our future; we should be building things that even to the extent that they don’t benefit us completely will benefit our children because it’s what our parents did and what their parents did. So it’s sort of our generation’s turn to make those kinds of legacy investments,” said Coscia.