CRANFORD – The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition (RVRC), a rail-advocacy group representing 1.7 million residents in four counties along NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley rail line, will sponsor a free presentation on the Gateway Project, beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, at the Cranford Community Center, located at 220 Walnut Avenue. 

Featured speaker attorney Jerry Zaro, with Sills, Cummis and Gross P.C., serves as chairman of the Gateway Development Corporation, which oversees the Gateway Project – a multibillion-dollar infrastructure initiative to build new rail tunnels under the Hudson River, rehabilitate the already-existing 108-year-old tunnels (which were badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy), build a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River, expand New York’s Penn Station, and related projects. It would be the largest current infrastructure project in the United States.

The Gateway Project improvements are in the heart of the Northeast Corridor, the most heavily used passenger train line in the U.S., which accounts for 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). It’s estimated that 10 percent of the U.S. GDP depends on transit between New York and New Jersey alone.

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A 2016 Amtrak report found that implementation of the full Gateway Project could generate $3.87-worth of economic benefits for every $1 spent.

The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, which represents Union, Somerset, Middlesex and Hunterdon Counties, is NJ Transit’s third most-used rail line. While track connectivity existed into New York, Raritan Valley riders always had switch trains in Newark because their diesel engines were not allowed into the tunnels under the Hudson River.

That changed in 2014, when NJ Transit began using dual-mode locomotives that could switch from diesel to electric power, making it possible to have a direct ride into New York City.  NJ Transit introduced limited, one-seat ride service during off-peak hours in January 2015, but then suspended it last year.

The coalition, which also consists of a Mayors’ Alliance and of county and state officials, can be reached on email at info@Raritanvalleyrail.com, is on the web at raritanvalleyrail.com/, on Facebook at facebook.com/raritanvalleyrail/, and Twitter at  twitter.com/rvrailcoalition.