NJ-NYC commuters saw a glimmer of hope this week. At a meeting with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and New Jersey politicians, including presidential hopeful N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, the officials agreed to work together to move forward on a plan to build new rail tunnels under the Hudson River.
According to the New York Times:
After Mr. Foxx met with Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and the state’s two Democratic senators, Cory A. Booker and Robert Menendez, the officials signaled a new level of cooperation on the project. The four released a joint statement calling the meeting “substantive and productive,” and indicated that they would work to obtain “a substantial federal grant contribution” and other funding options for the plan, known as the Gateway Project.
Though Foxx considers Gateway to be one of the most important transportation projects in the country, it has been subject to endless delays. Citing funding concerns, Christie canceled tunnel plans in 2010. According to the Times, “he has said recently that he supports building new tunnels, but that the federal government must provide a major share of the funding.” The Times notes that Foxx has been vague about federal funding for the project, but officials are optimistic about the project’s future after this week’s meeting.
The current tunnels, owned by Amtrak, are still damaged from Hurricane Sandy. Building infrastructure that can withstand floods is increasingly important in cities like New York, as the effects of climate change threaten coastal cities.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York proposed the creation of a nonprofit to oversee the project, which would cost upwards of $20 billion. Per the Times:
Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on the project on Tuesday, saying that new tunnels were important for the region and endorsing Mr. Schumer’s proposal.
“For folks to the west of the Hudson, there’s just not enough access to the city,” he told reporters. “That’s holding back New Jersey. That’s also holding back New York.”
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.