NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called the malfunctions of the Portal Bridge that snarled NJ TRANSIT service in and out of Penn Station Friday morning “completely unacceptable and, most importantly, avoidable.”
Service was suspended between Newark Penn and New York Penn Station during the morning rush due to the century-old bridge being stuck in the open position.
Murphy said the Portal Bridge is a key part of the Gateway project, which local leaders of both parties call one of the most pressing infrastructure needs in the country.
“This morning is an example of what happens to commuters and the economy when the federal government is missing in action,” Murphy said.
Many believe President Donald Trump is using Gateway as political leverage, especially because New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer is such a fierce supporter of the project, among others.
Earlier this month, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao acknowledged that Trump is maneuvering to block funding.
Chao told a House committee that New York and New Jersey “have no skin in the game” and need to pony up more money to help pay for the project.
But Murphy said Friday that the two states “have already held up our sides of the bargain by committing to fund our fair share.”
“But, time and again, the White House and Republican leadership in Congress have failed to understand the critical need for this project to be fully funded,” he said.
Some local lawmakers are pressing the president to change his mind. Long Island Congressman Peter King said he spoke to Trump on Thursday.
“I can tell you the president listened to everything I had to say, he understood the importance of it and that’s really all I can say right now,” King said.
King wants money to start the project included in the spending bill that must pass next week to avoid a government shutdown.
“We’re going to have to wait to see how the politics play out here,” Chairman of the Gateway Development Corporation Steve Cohen said at a board meeting Friday. “This is something that is vital, not simply locally or even regionally, but nationally. You saw an example of that this morning with the failure of a 107-year-old piece of infrastructure.”
Officials argue Gateway is critical to 51 million people across the Northeast who use it for travel and rely on the corridor to deliver goods and services, CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported. The economic activity along the corridor represents 20 percent of the national economy.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)