Gateway Project Remains On The Rails, Despite Lack Of Federal Funding

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The proposed Gateway Project is pressing ahead, despite uncertainty over who is going to pay for the plan.

The project, connecting New York and New Jersey, would rebuild the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and construct two additional tunnels under the Hudson River.

The first draft environmental impact study for the proposal was released Thursday.

“We believe those environmental impacts, given the public benefits and the ability to mitigate those impacts, are minimal,” interim executive director John Pocari announced. 

Pocari said the bridge work is ready to begin this summer, and construction on the $13 billion tunnels could start as soon as next year, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“It’s the most urgent infrastructure project in America. It replaces a single point of failure for 10 percent of American’s gross domestic product,” he said. “It’s a bridge and a tunnel that are 106 years old.”

Related: Experts Discuss Urgent Need For Proposed Gateway Project At Public Hearing In Newark

So what’s the hold up? The project is still waiting for federal funding.

“No project of this magnitude can move forward without federal financial help,” Pocari said.

Under President Barack Obama in 2015, federal officials and Amtrak said they would cover half the cost of the project, while New York and New Jersey split the rest.

However, President Donald Trump’s proposed budget does not contain any funding for the project.

“Any delay in putting together that partnership can translate into a delay of the opening date,” Pocari said. 

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently pulled out of the group overseeing the $24 billion project. But Pocari said that isn’t necessarily a negative thing.

“If that clears up any ambiguity as to their role, or in their mind potential conflict of interest, then it should help move the project forward,” he said.

The project would provide Amtrak the chance to repair the existing tunnels damaged by Superstorm Sandy. According to officials, the section carries around 450 Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT commuter trains daily.

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

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