BigNews.Biz - Apr 20,2017 - Booker, Schumer, Menendez, Gillibrand Urge U.S. DOT Secretary Chao to Visit Century-old NJ, NY Rail Infrastructure
Lawmakers cite need for Sec. Chao to see firsthand the critical need for robust federal infrastructure funding
NEWARK, NJ – In the wake of a series of crippling delays along the Northeast Corridor, today U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao to visit the century-old rail infrastructure connecting New Jersey and New York, including the trans-Hudson tunnels and Portal Bridge, to see firsthand the critical need for robust investment in our region’s rail and transit infrastructure.
“As you may know, the last two Secretaries of the Department of Transportation, Anthony Foxx and Ray LaHood, visited New York Penn Station during their tenures to discuss the importance of driving investment to the Northeast Corridor,” the lawmakers wrote. “Following in that tradition, a site visit, particularly one that allows you to witness the volume of passengers at peak travel times, will provide you detailed information about the status of the current infrastructure and the urgent need for federal investments in advancing the Gateway Project.”
A budget proposal released by the Trump Administration in March slashes U.S. Department of Transportation discretionary programs by $2.4 billion, dramatically reduces federal support for Amtrak, and shutters the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. The budget proposal also zeros-out the New Starts capital grant program, which threatens to terminate work on critical components to the Gateway Program including replacing the century-old Portal Bridge in New Jersey and new trans-Hudson rail tunnels.
As part of the New Jersey and New York senators' ongoing commitment to moving the Gateway Program forward, in December 2015 provisions benefiting Gateway were included in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the first Federal law in over ten years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation.
In helping to jumpstart Gateway, in August 2015 Sen. Booker convened a meeting to discuss governance and funding for the Gateway Program.
Coming out of that meeting, in November 2016 the Senators and Governors from New York and New Jersey joined in announcing they reached an agreement on funding commitments and a governance structure that will allow the Gateway Tunnel Project to move forward.
During a recent Commerce Committee markup, Sen. Booker citied the crippling impact of the recent derailments in opposing the nomination of Jeff Rosen as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) due to Mr. Rosen’s lack of commitment to supporting funding for New Starts and other critical programs for our nation’s infrastructure, including the Gateway Program.
The full text of the letter to Sec. Chao is as follows:
April 19, 2017
The Honorable Elaine Chao
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Chao:
As you continue your work to develop the Trump Administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure package, we urge you to consider the urgent need for major investments in our nation’s rail and transit