Biden administration moving ahead on Gateway tunnel crucial to N.J., Buttigieg says

Posted Mar 25, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration is moving ahead on approving the Gateway Tunnel project, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Thursday.

“I share your sense of urgency with Gateway and related projects,” Buttigieg told the House Transportation Committee. “This is a regional issue but one of national significance because if there was a failure in one of those tunnels, the entire U.S. economy would feel it.”

During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to support Gateway, a new railroad tunnel under the Hudson River to allow the existing tubes to be closed to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Buttigieg on Thursday said the department hoped to complete the project’s long-delayed environmental impact statement by the end of June.

The Federal Railroad Administration missed a March 30, 2018, deadline for the statement and Buttigieg’s predecessor as transportation secretary, Elaine Chao said it wouldn’t be completed as long as the new Hudson River tunnel did not to qualify for federal funding.

Under Chao, the transportation department lowered the project’s rating and made it ineligible for federal assistance.

Buttigieg said the Federal Railroad Administration was working with NJ Transit and the other Gateway partners to complete the environmental impact statement.

The three New Jersey Democrats on the committee — Reps. Tom Malinowski, D-7th Dist., Albio Sires, D-8th Dist., and Donald Payne Jr., D-10th Dist. — all asked Buttigieg about Gateway.

And the secretary said he would come to the region to view the existing tunnel first hand.

“We know that it’s of importance to the region and really the whole country, how much economic activity passes through those tunnels,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said the department also was working with local officials and transit agencies to review the project’s funding and other criteria.

Former President Donald Trump opposed the project, at one point even threatening to shut down the federal government rather than sign a spending bill providing any money for the new tunnel.

The Federal Transit Administration in February reversed a Trump administration ruling said it would allow states to use U.S. government loans that they have to repay to cover their share of a project, making it eligible for federal funding.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-03-26 02:32:46 -0700