NEWARK, NJ - On Oct. 30, Sen. Cory Booker will hold a conversation at the Prudential Headquarters in Newark to discuss repercussions of a potential Hudson rail tunnel closure and benefits of the Gateway program.

Without action, Amtrak estimates the need to close each tunnel for more than a year for repairs. Such closures will reduce train traffic by an estimated 75 percent in peak hours, inflicting serious economic damage to our region, according to the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition.

Mayor Colleen Mahr, of Scotch Plains, leads the Mayor's Coalition of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition and has long been a proponent of direct train service into New York City for trains along the Raritan Valley line. Currently, commuters on the line have to switch at Newark during rush hours.

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In 2014, NJ Transit introduced off-peak service into Penn Station in Manhattan. Five trains each morning stop in Bridgewater and Raritan, beginning at 9:12 a.m. and at other stations along the Raritan Valley line, including Fanwood, Plainfield, Westfield, Garwood, Cranford, Roselle Park and Union.

"Our economy is very closely tied to being able to move people in and out of Manhattan," Mahr said. "We felt like we should have a leadership role in promoting the Gateway Project. It will be a serious discussion of transportation for New Jersey commuters."

"Partnering with Sen. Booker brings a national voice to this discussion, and we also have expert panel to look at possible solutions for commuters," Mahr added.

Mahr encourages the public to attend the free event.

"Raritan Valley is still meeting regularly with NJT to fight for expanded one-seat service, but the rail line has serious budget constraints. Commuting in and out of Manhattan has a direct impact on all the towns along the Raritan Valley line," Mahr said.

The event, titled "The Economics of Gateway," is a part of the Trans-Hudson Forum Series and will run from 9:15 a.m. until noon. RSVP at rpa.org/economicsofgateway.

Other speakers include:

  • Philip K. Beacham, President, NJ Alliance for Action
  • Thomas Bracken, President & CEO, NJ Chamber of Commerce,
  • Dr. James W. Hughes, Dean, Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of NJ
  • Cathleen Lewis, Director of Public Affairs, AAA
  • Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President, RXR Realty
  • Thomas K. Wright, President, Regional Plan Association
  • Ryan Hutchins, Politico New Jersey, Moderator