Representative Nita Lowey

Representing the 17th District of New York

Lowey, Sires, Malinowski Lead NY, NJ Members in Demanding Answers from Secretary Chao on Gateway Environmental Review Hold Up

April 3, 2019
Press Release

Washington DC – Today, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Congressman Albio Sires, and Congressman Tom Malinowski, and are leading over twenty of their North Eastern colleagues in calling on Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao to finalize and publish the Hudson Tunnel Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will allow the critical Gateway Project to finally move forward.

Eleven months have now passed since DOT’s original deadline for the review, and all deadline and status dates have been removed from government dashboards. The average length of time for a final EIS report to be published is five months. The Gateway Project is vital, and there is no justification for placing artificial and unnecessary roadblocks in its path, including delaying the EIS.

“Completion of the Hudson Tunnel Project is critical to improving the lives of commuters and working families across the New York City metro area. The Gateway Project is of both regional and national economic importance, and the DOT must start treating it as such,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

“The Hudson Tunnel Project is one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country, and it’s being held up by political bureaucracy. The Trump Administration needs to issue the Project’s final Environmental Impact Statement so that the next steps can get underway and our region can avoid an economic catastrophe,” said Congressman Albio Sires.

“For an unprecedented eleven months the completed environmental report for one of the most important infrastructure projects in the nation has sat motionless on a desk at the Department of Transportation waiting for sign off. This administration campaigned on revitalizing American infrastructure, but there is no sign they are taking that promise seriously. I hope Secretary Chao will consider our letter carefully and remove this unnecessary hurdle to getting the Gateway Project moving,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski.

Co-Signers: Bill Pascrell, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne, Jr., Bonnie Watson Coleman, Mikie Sherrill, Andy Kim, Jeff Van Drew, Donald Norcross, Josh Gottheimer, Sean Patrick Maloney, Adriano Espaillat, Thomas R. Suozzi, Eliot L. Engel, Jerrold Nadler, Peter T. King, Antonio Delgado, Max Rose, Kathleen M. Rice, Nydia M. Velázquez, Grace Meng, Carolyn B. Maloney, and Lee Zeldin.

Read the full letter below.

The Honorable Elaine Chao
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary Chao:

We urge the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to complete and publish the Hudson Tunnel Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to allow this critical project to move forward. The Gateway Project has experienced unprecedented delays in receiving approval through various steps of DOT’s grant process. Eleven months have passed since DOT’s original deadline for the review, and all deadline and status dates have been removed from government dashboards. Without the completed EIS, the construction phase cannot move forward, impeding job creation and increasing the likelihood that a catastrophic failure of the existing tunnel will occur before construction of the new tunnel is complete. As the DOT has resumed normal operations following the government shutdown, any continued delay is unacceptable.

The North River Tunnel transports over 200,000 passengers each day between New Jersey and New York, but old age, heavy traffic, and damage from extreme weather have left the system in dire need of repairs. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy inundated the tunnel with millions of gallons of salt water, which continue to damage the concrete tunnel liner and bench walls. If the tunnel were to collapse or become structurally unsound, it would endanger public safety and devastate the U.S. economy, as the New York metropolitan area is responsible for 20 percent of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product. The Hudson Tunnel Project will construct a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River to preserve the current functionality of the Northeast Corridor’s (NEC) Hudson River rail crossing between New Jersey and New York and to improve resiliency. Once the new tunnel is ready, the century-old NEC North River Tunnel will undergo significant rehabilitation.

The Gateway Project is vital, and there is no justification for placing artificial and unnecessary roadblocks in its path, including delaying the EIS. Congressional intent to fund the Gateway Project has been clear, as Congress decided in its most recent funding agreement to increase the Capital Investment Grants program, Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Initiative Grants, and Federal State of Good Repair, all of which are critical to providing funds for Gateway. The most recent appropriations package signed into law by the President also enables New Jersey and New York to count federal loans as part of their local match for the Project.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to move the Gateway Project forward for the safety and convenience of commuters, passengers, and our nation’s economy. We urge the Department of Transportation to immediately complete the Environmental Impact Statement for the Hudson Tunnel Project.

 

###