NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A public hearing was held in Newark on Tuesday to discuss the proposed Gateway Project, which hopes to create a new tunnel under the Hudson River.

The recent train derailments at Penn Station highlighted the need for major work to the area’s infrastructure. Half a million people travel through Penn Station each week. 

Last week’s derailment led to four days of crowded and canceled trains, making for chaotic commutes. Eight trains were out of service while crews made repairs, impacting NJ TRANSIT, LIRR and Amtrak riders.

“Currently, the two rail tunnels that service Penn Station in New York are over 100 years old,” said Mark Lohbauer, of the Regional Plan Association.

Despite the White House cutting federal transportation funding from its proposed budget, there’s still optimism the Gateway project will be completed, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

“These are programs of national significance that are fundamental to the economy of the region, as well as of the country,” said project chairman Richard Bagger.

If the federal funding doesn’t come through, executive director John Pocari said he would consider a public-private partnership.

“All different procurement options are on the table,” he said.

Both of the current tunnels were damaged in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, requiring regular maintenance.  If one or more fail, experts say it would be disastrous.

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