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Sen. Bob Menendez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

FTA nominee commits to working with local officials on Gateway

By Nikita Biryukov, May 11 2021 12:24 pm

President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Transit Administration told U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) he would work with local officials to ensure the Gateway Project continues to advance.

“I agree that Gateway is a project of national significance.  The Hudson Tunnel, which is part of the Gateway Program, is an essential link,” Deputy FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez said during her confirmation hearing. “If confirmed, I commit to working with the project sponsors as they take all the necessary steps to complete the requirements for receipt of the funding.”

If confirmed, Fernandez would oversee the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants program, the largest source of federal moneys for projects like Gateway that require significant capital investment.

Though movement on Gateway has accelerated in the first months of President Joe Biden’s administration, existing infrastructure continues to choke major transit arteries into New York City.

Shortly before Biden took office, NJ Transit, whose Northeast Corridor line runs through the aging North River Tunnel, and the FTA reached an agreement to fully fund the Portal North Bridge project, a replacement to the existing Portal Bridge, a 115-year-old bridge that serves as a major source of delays for NJ Transit.

The investments are key to the economic health of the reason. Amtrak, which controls the North River Tunnels, estimates shutting down the North East Corridor without replacements ready could cost the regional economy roughly $100 million each day.

“I believe that Gateway is the single most important transportation project in the country, and we have to move quickly to get it done,” Menendez said.  “I appreciate that the President and the Administration have consistently highlighted the importance of Gateway, and the Federal Railroad Administration has already committed to completing the environmental review process by the end of the month.  But FTA has a vital role to play here as well.”

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