U.S. Senate committee approves $20 million for Gateway Tunnel

TRENTON – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee today approved $20 million for Amtrak to continue work on the Gateway Tunnel project, according to a release from the offices of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

The $20 million is part of the 2013 fiscal year U.S. Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill. The bill still has to be approved by the full Senate.

The proposed Gateway Tunnel Project would add two new rail tunnels from New Jersey to Manhattan, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called the proposal “absolutely critical” to the region.

The Gateway Project came forward in the aftermath of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to kill the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) tunnel due to projected cost overruns.

“We are at capacity on all Hudson River crossings, so the Gateway Project is simply essential to New Jersey’s economic growth and for our commuters,” Menendez said in a release. “This funding is an important step in a long process to get this project under construction.”

Lautenberg said the project is “critical to addressing our state’s transportation crisis.”

“A new trans-Hudson tunnel would dramatically increase access to commuter trains for a growing population of transit riders, and help to break the gridlock on our congested roads,” Lautenberg said in a release.

An initial $15 million was approved in November 2011 for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the project. The Gateway Tunnel is expected to increase NJ Transit commuter rail capacity into New York by 65 percent, according to a release.