Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) spoke with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the proposed Gateway Program today at a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The project, the successor to the ARC Tunnel killed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2010, would create a new rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York with the goal of easing congestion and improving availability of intercity rail.
During the hearing, Malinowski expressed his frustration with the slow timeline timeline for the project.
“My constituents are not going to be happy to hear statements like this could go until 2035,” Malinowski said. “It’s not going to be acceptable.”
Malinowski asked Buttigieg why infrastructure projects in the United States take longer and cost more than other heavily industrialized countries like in Western Europe, despite similar labor and environmental protections.
“It is a project, or a set of projects that will, I think, test us in terms of our ability to reduce the gap between the cost it takes to deliver a project in the U.S. and the cost you see in a lot of other western countries,” Buttigieg responded.
Buttigieg didn’t offer a sole reason for the gap, but suggested that the various parties of interest in the U.S. require more coordination than in other nations.
The Transportation Secretary did say, however, that the appointment of former New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri as CEO of the project will provide unified leadership. Buttigieg added the project will have to take in best practices from inside and outside the U.S. to find methods that lead to faster results.
“We think that with the right level of intentionality we can buck the trend of very large, very complex projects, to go longer and cost more than they should,” he said.