Hudson River tunnel closing would hurt U.S. economy, Trump’s Fed chairman says

Posted Feb 12, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s Federal Reserve chairman said Wednesday a lengthy closing of the Portal Bridge or Hudson River tunnels could deliver a hit to the U.S. economy.

Powell, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, acknowledged the economic threat if the century-old infrastructure should fail before it is replaced.

"If it were sustained, yes,” Powell said. “Things happen and we fix them and they don’t show up much in GDP, but if they’re sustained, then, yes.”

Powell was responding to a question from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., after the Trump administration raised the rating on the Portal Bridge, making it eligible for federal funding, but not the Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River.

The century-old tunnels were damaged by Hurricane Sandy and need to be repaired, and the 109-year-old Portal Bridge gets stuck in the up position, severing the railroad link between Washington and Boston.

Amtrak warned a year ago that the region would lose $100 million a day in economic activity if the tunnels has to be shut down for repairs.

“That has a significant economic impact and I would urge the Fed to look at that as a question about our infrastructure needs,” Menendez said. "That’s why I’m so frustrated by the administration not seeing the importance of what we call the Gateway Project.”

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