New York Councilman David G. Greenfield, New York State Senator Simcha Felder and 12 fellow state and local elected officials from New York City have written a letter to officials at the United States Department of Transportation, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit requesting that the planned Gateway Tunnel project from New Jersey to Manhattan be modified to incorporate freight along with passenger rail operations.
The Gateway Program aims to improve rail services and create new capacity that will allow for the number of passenger trains under the Hudson River to be doubled into Manhattan’s Penn Station. The project will also entail a number of infrastructure improvements and repair remaining damage caused by Super Storm Sandy. Unfortunately, as currently envisioned, the project does not incorporate freight operations — meaning that 98% of freight in New York City will continue to be moved over land by trucks even once the tunnel is complete. This over-reliance on trucks causes traffic congestion and air pollution, among other serious problems.
The letter, which was signed by fourteen New York state and local legislators, notes that opening the Gateway Tunnel to freight rail operations would improve the quality of the region’s air and the safety of its roads, shorten commutes for drivers, and extend the life of major infrastructure like bridges by reducing strain from heavy truck traffic. Furthermore, the letter points out, operating freight trains through the Gateway Tunnel could help defray the significant costs of the project.
“For nearly a century, experts have been trying to build a freight tunnel between New York and New Jersey,” Greenfield said. “Now we have the opportunity to make that dream come true — a chance that won’t come again for at least another hundred years. Unfortunately, some bureaucrats would rather waste billions of dollars for a dedicated freight tunnel that will likely never materialize. We need to add freight to this passenger tunnel so that we can save money and actually get it done.”
“Better air, safer roads, quicker trips for drivers—who wouldn’t want these benefits?” said NYS Sen. Simcha Felder. “And the upside is the financial benefits are an excellent return on the investment.”
The other signatories to the letter Greenfield and Felder authored were: NYS Sens. Martin Golden and Diane Savino, NYS Assembly Members Helene Weinstein, James Brennan, Dov Hikind, Peter Abbate Jr, and NYC Council Members Ben Kallos, Peter Koo, Donovan Richards Jr, Mark Treyger, Rafael Espinal Jr, and Vincent Gentile.