Gateway commission bills pass in New York, New Jersey

Governors expected to sign legislation creating group to oversee Northeast Corridor tunnel, bridge projects
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Portal_Bridge_Spielman
A New York-bound NJ Transit train crosses the Portal Bridge in October 2018. The bridge, more than a century old, is one component of the Gateway Project for Northeast Corridor infrastructure.
Ralph Spielman

NEW YORK — Legislatures in New York and New Jersey have passed identical bills creating the Gateway Project Development Commission, a key step in creating a method to oversee and fund the Gateway project for a new rail tunnel between the two states, as well as other Northeast Corridor improvements.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are expected to sign the bills passed last Thursday. Their signatures will authorize the Gateway Program Development Corp., a seven-member bi-state commission with three commissions from each state and one appointed by Amtrak. NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be partners.

The legislation makes the new corporation eligible for federal, state, and local grants to fund the Gateway Program, which intends to build a new tunnel under the Hudson, rehabilitate the existing tunnels — damaged by Hurricane Sandy — and replace the aging and troublesome Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River near Secaucus, N.J. [See “New Jersey governor pushes for Hudson tunnel funding,” Trains News Wire, May 4, 2019.]

Said New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, upon passage of the bill by both the Assembly and Senate: “This commission will help to jumpstart the process of bringing our infrastructure into the 21st century, the creation of jobs and supports the residents of our community.”

NorthJersey.com reports that the legislation empowers to commission to collect tolls and fees to help pay for the local portions of project costs, which are to be split evenly between the two states. It also outlines details of how commission members will be appointed, among other details.

“Leaders in New York and New Jersey know that safe and reliable transportation between our states and within the Northeast Corridor is vitally important to our economies and critical to the quality of life of our residents,” New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Thursday. “We look forward to working with our partners in New Jersey to deliver the long overdue infrastructure our residents need and deserve.”

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