TRENTON, NJ – Setting the project guidelines in conjunction with the state of New York, legislation creating the Gateway Development Commission -- sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and the Assembly Transportation Chair Daniel Benson -- cleared its first legislative hurdle Thursday.
“The Hudson Tunnel Project is arguably the most important project that will take place along the East Coast,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “We’re looking forward to the work of the commission and to getting started on the multiple projects under the Gateway program. Commuters and residents from both states deserve to see improvements in the rail line. They are long overdue.”
Under the bill, (A-5067) the commission would be a new bi-state entity created to, in part, facilitate the completion of passenger rail transportation projects known as the Gateway Program and to coordinate cooperation among various entities. It will be comprised of three commissioners, with one to be appointed by the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation, one to be appointed by the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Transit Corporation, and one to be appointed by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak).
“Thank you to members of the NJ Assembly for unanimously approving legislation to create the Gateway Development Corporation (GDC). This vote, along with last week’s vote in the Senate, is a necessary step toward making the Gateway Tunnel a reality,” said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr.
“As Fanwood’s Mayor and President of the NJ League of Municipalities, I hear from residents almost daily about their frustration with commuting delays and cancellations," she added. "As Mayors, we know that the long term economic well-being of our communities, home values and ability to attract businesses are tied to this much needed infrastructure project.”
The tunnels under the Hudson River are more than 100 years old. The deterioration was only amplified by Hurricane Sandy. More than 800,000 riders travel through the tunnels every day, the most heavily used passenger rail line in the country. The tunnels serve a region that makes up 17 percent of the country’s population and produces $3 trillion in economic output.
The bill was released by the Assembly Transportation Committee. It will now head to the Assembly Speaker for further review.
“These are critical infrastructure improvements to our rail line that our transit system and service need. As Chairman, I am glad to see New Jersey and New York moving forward on the Gateway Program,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “While we continue to work on securing the remainder of the funding for the gateway projects, this next step ensures the state’s equal participation in the process when it is time for the projects to begin.”