Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Amtrak Says Gateway Project Would Mean 4-to-1 Economic Payback

  • No federal financial commitment as Hudson River tunnel decays
  • Trump’s $1 trillion pitch key to Northeastern U.S. rail future

Gateway, the $25 billion project to ease commuter congestion between New Jersey and New York, would generate $4 for every one spent, according to a summary released by Amtrak.

The findings were based on a broader study to bolster the funding chances for one of the nation’s biggest proposed transportation-infrastructure projects. While New York and New Jersey have agreed to pay half the cost, the federal government has made no commitment.

Elected leaders, including Democratic U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey and Charles Schumer of New York, are pressuring Republican President Donald Trump’s administration to prioritize Gateway as he pushes for $1 trillion in public and private infrastructure spending. The quality of U.S. roads, bridges and other transportation assets was assigned a "D+" grade on March 9 by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Gateway, with a new trans-Hudson River rail tunnel plus modernized bridges and expanded tracks, may cost $25 billion, Schumer has said. It would double service for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak customers to Manhattan, spur job growth and fortify a system that sustained widespread damage from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the report said. The new tunnel is scheduled to open in 2025, with the entire project complete in 2030.

“Continued economic growth depends on the region’s mass transit systems’ ability to transport a more dispersed workforce to and from Manhattan,” the report said. Competitors, including London, Tokyo and Berlin, are modernizing transportation hubs that will give them an edge for jobs and economic growth.

Without the new tunnel, the report found, the region stands to lose as much as $3 billion in economic activity from 2025 to 2029. Corrosives in Sandy flood water damaged the existing North River tunnel, more than 100 years old, and Amtrak leadership has said it has less than 20 years of serviceable life. If one of its two tubes fail, capacity will be reduced 75 percent.

Some of the region’s rail challenges were to ease as early as 2018 with the opening of a second Hudson River tunnel. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, though, a Republican who was stoking a presidential run, canceled that project in 2010, criticizing its design and possible cost overruns. The decision snuffed the potential for 44,000 jobs and $375 million in annual property-tax revenue, according to congressional investigators.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
    LEARN MORE