Economy

As Rail Woes Persist, Gov. Christie Mum on Tunnel Project He Axed

As Rail Woes Persist, Gov. Christie Mum on Tunnel Project He Axed

Left to right, state Sen.

Rail problems have been plaguing Penn Station in the last month: an Amtrak train derailed there weeks ago, and an NJ Transit derailment two weeks ago shut down eight of 21 tracks there and disrupted travel in the region for days.

Cory Booker and Gov. Chris Christie called on the top transportation official in Washington to come take a tour of the decaying rail infrastructure connecting New Jersey and NY.

The Republican governor didn't answer questions on the matter at a news conference Wednesday to urge more federal funding for a new tunnel. This weekend, 1,200 passengers were trapped for hours on a disabled NJ Transit train.

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Christie and Booker are calling on federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to tour the crumbling transit infrastructure around NY and New Jersey.

But Trump's proposed federal budget would only provide those grants to projects that have advanced to the final contract stage, potentially jeopardizing Gateway. Booker, Sen. Bob Menendez (both D) and the two USA senators from NY have all been calling on Trump to fund the project as part of his campaign pledge to fund infrastructure upgrades. The project would've added a second tunnel between NY and New Jersey to augment a 110-year-old tunnel.

A protester holds a sign at Newark Penn Station prior to a news conference with U.S. Sen.

"Truly a traffic Armageddon because should these trains fall our region becomes crippled", Booker said.

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Such tariffs, though, could be overturned in a review by the World Trade Organization. The dollar's strength in the past two years has been a drag on US exports.

Paul P. Josephson, co-chair of the RPA, called the imperiled Gateway Program "the most important project in the nation today" and said the loss of even one of the current tunnels would result in "catastrophic loss to the regional and national economy". Estimates peg the cost of the Gateway tunnel at almost $20 billion. A report by the federal Government Accountability Office later disputed those numbers as well as Christie's assessment of New Jersey's percentage of the overall project cost.

"That's done. That's history", Booker said.

"That's history, and I hate that I have to revisit that all the time", Booker said about Christie's decision to kill the ARC tunnel.

"The busiest river crossing in North America has a century-old inadequate infrastructure that is causing havoc within this region", Booker said.

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The Trump administration has promised a trillion-dollar infrastructure package but has yet to announce where or how it plans to allocate that investment.