Maloney Forces Transportation Secretary to Admit Trump Is Working to Kill Critical Gateway Project
WASHINGTON — After reports broke last week that President Trump was whipping congressional Republicans against funding the comprehensive Gateway rail project, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) today grilled Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao regarding the White House’s efforts to kill the project. The Gateway Program is a comprehensive project of strategic rail infrastructure upgrades designed to improve current services and create new capacity that will allow the doubling of passenger trains running under the Hudson River. During the hearing, Secretary Chao confirmed that the President was personally working to kill the project.
Click here to watch the exchange between Rep. Maloney and Secretary Chao.
“According to Secretary Chao, the President is personally intervening to kill the most important infrastructure project in America because of a personal feud, and that’s pretty shameful,” said Rep. Maloney. “The President’s own transition team said Gateway would create over 30,000 jobs in the New York metro and should be our country’s top priority – this is just crazy.”
Currently, only two rail tunnels under the Hudson River connect New York’s Penn Station to New Jersey’s Penn Station. The tubes are used by both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. The existing tubes are over 100 years old and were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. If one of the two tubes is forced to close for repairs, rail capacity through the tunnels would be reduced by 75%. Gateway will increase capacity on tracks, tunnels, bridges, and stations, eventually create four new tracks, including a new two-track Hudson River tunnel. The program would also modernize other failing infrastructure including electrical systems and bridges.
In November 2015, Governors Chris Christie (NJ) and Andrew Cuomo (NY), U.S. Senators, Amtrak, and the United States Department of Transportation announced an agreement that the states would cover half the cost of the project, and Amtrak and the federal government would provide funding for the other half. But, in December 2017, acting Federal Transit Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a letter to the Governors that the funding agreement was “nonexistent.” Last week, President Trump reportedly encouraged Republicans to oppose funding for the Gateway project.
Gateway is essential not only to the New York metropolitan economy, but also the greater NEC. The Corridor’s commuter and intercity rail services move 750,000 people each day and moves a workforce that contributes $50 billion annually to the American economy. Per the Trump transition team's own estimates, the Gateway project's completion would create 15,000 jobs directly and another 19,000 indirectly, with an average salary of $73,000 per year. Orange County in Rep. Maloney’s Hudson Valley district relies on connections to New Jersey Transit to commute to and from New York City, including the aging tunnels under the Hudson River.