Dear Secretary Chao:
We urge the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to complete and publish the Hudson Tunnel Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to allow this critical project to move forward. The Gateway Project has experienced unprecedented delays in receiving approval through various steps of DOT's grant process. Eleven months have passed since DOT's original deadline for the review, and all deadline and status dates have been removed from government dashboards. Without the completed EIS, the construction phase cannot move forward, impeding job creation and increasing the likelihood that a catastrophic failure of the existing tunnel will occur before construction of the new tunnel is complete. As the DOT has resumed normal operations following the government shutdown, any continued delay is unacceptable.
The North River Tunnel transports over 200,000 passengers each day between New Jersey and New York, but old age, heavy traffic, and damage from extreme weather have left the system in dire need of repairs. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy inundated the tunnel with millions of gallons of salt water, which continue to damage the concrete tunnel liner and bench walls. If the tunnel were to collapse or become structurally unsound, it would endanger public safety and devastate the U.S. economy, as the New York metropolitan area is responsible for 20 percent of our nation's Gross Domestic Product. The Hudson Tunnel Project will construct a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River to preserve the current functionality of the Northeast Corridor's (NEC) Hudson River rail crossing between New Jersey and New York and to improve resiliency. Once the new tunnel is ready, the century-old NEC North River Tunnel will undergo significant rehabilitation.
The Gateway Project is vital, and there is no justification for placing artificial and unnecessary roadblocks in its path, including delaying the EIS. Congressional intent to fund the Gateway Project has been clear, as Congress decided in its most recent funding agreement to increase the Capital Investment Grants program, Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Initiative Grants, and Federal State of Good Repair, all of which are critical to providing funds for Gateway. The most recent appropriations package signed into law by the President also enables New Jersey and New York to count federal loans as part of their local match for the Project.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to move the Gateway Project forward for the safety and convenience of commuters, passengers, and our nation's economy. We urge the Department of Transportation to immediately complete the Environmental Impact Statement for the Hudson Tunnel Project.