U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told federal lawmakers today that the Gateway Tunnel from New Jersey into Manhattan is “absolutely critical” to the region.
LaHood was testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on his department’s budget.
“We are working with both New Jersey and New York,” LaHood said in response to a question from U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. “We know this tunnel is absolutely critical and we will continue our work. If this is the priority for the region, then it becomes a priority for us.”
The Gateway Tunnel project would add two new rail tunnels from New Jersey to New York City. These tunnels, which could be completed in 2020, would significantly increase commuter train capacity by allowing NJ Transit to add an additional 13 trains per peak hour into New York City and it would increase the number of Amtrak trains into New York City by eight per hour.
The tunnel was conceived by Amtrak and championed by Lautenberg after plans for the Access to the Region’s Core – ARC – tunnel were scuttled by Gov. Chris Christie due to projected cost overruns.
In November, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $15 million to begin design work on the tunnel. Amtrak is looking for another $35 million to continue the planning process.