What President Trump gives with one hand, he apparently takes away with the other.
Less than one month after unveiling an infrastructure plan that he claims will leverage $1.5 trillion in new construction, repair and maintenance, President Trump is trying to block the $30 billion Gateway project, potentially killing thousands of jobs building an urgently-needed new rail tunnel under the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey.
This is exactly the kind of project that must be a top priority in any infrastructure plan. There are two existing tunnels handling all Northeast Corridor rail traffic. But the tunnels are 100 years old and deteriorating quickly. Saltwater damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 made things worse. And they currently operate at maximum capacity, carrying 200,000 daily Amtrak and New Jersey Transit riders on approximately 450 trains each and every day.
Simply put, without the Gateway tunnel, the entire Northeast Corridor — a linchpin in our national economy — is at risk of being severed in two. The loss of just one of the existing tunnels could cut rail traffic by 75 percent. If both go, train travel would come to a screeching halt.
By contrast, with the Gateway tunnel, train capacity would double and high-speed rail service would expand. It is “widely considered to be among the most pressing and expensive infrastructure needs in the country,” according to The Washington Post.
So why is a president who claims he wants to revitalize our infrastructure trying to kneecap it? There is no justification on the merits. Some observers speculate that Trump is trying to exact political revenge on Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
As The New York Times editorialized:
Some actions by political leaders are capricious. Some can be shortsighted. And some are sheer lunkheaded. President Trump hit the trifecta last week when he encouraged the House speaker, Paul Ryan, to scrap start-up money for an additional rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, a project essential to the economic health not only of those two states but of the entire country.
The Gateway Tunnel must be built, both for the sake of our members who will gain work and for the sake of our nation’s economic future.
That’s why all OPCMIA members — not just in New York and New Jersey but throughout the U.S. — should call their members of Congress at (202) 224-3121. Tell them to fully fund the Gateway Tunnel project right now!