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Sens. Schumer, Booker urge $11B for Gateway Tunnel project

Sen. Chuck Schumer, with Sen. Corry Booker at

Sen. Chuck Schumer, with Sen. Corry Booker at his side, discusses the Gateway Tunnel project Monday, July 10, 2017, in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Cory Booker used the start of the so-called “summer of hell” to call on the Trump administration and federal lawmakers to approve $11 billion in federal funding for the Gateway Tunnel project that would create an additional set of railway tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey.

The project was backed by the Obama administration, but President Donald Trump omitted funding for the infrastructure initiative in the budget proposal he submitted to Congress earlier this year.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Booker (D-N.J.) at a news conference on Manhattan’s West Side, said Monday’s start of repair work at Penn Station, highlighted the need for an additional tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey.

Standing a block from the Hudson River, the senators said they were calling on the president to put his money where his mouth is and advance what they are calling the most critical infrastructure project in the country — and Trump’s first test of his commitment to infrastructure.

“We do not want to repeat the mistakes of our past,” Schumer said, noting that the state of disrepair at Penn Station was due in large part to years of underfunding and poor maintenance.

“The Gateway Tunnel is vital to our New York economy, [and] is vital to the whole Northeast,’’ Schumer said. “The tunnels that now go under the Hudson are old . . . and Sandy was the final blow. If they collapse, if they are not used, if they fail, we will go into a recession immediately. No one will get across the Hudson.’’

Booker warned of a “traffic Armageddon” if there were a need to close the existing rail tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey for weeks, similar to the Penn Station track closures during what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has dubbed the ‘‘summer of hell.’’

“The longer we wait to do these tunnels, the more expensive they will get,” Booker said.

Schumer said that “without the president’s support it’s going to be much, much harder,” to get Congress to pass funding for the project. The Senate minority leader also raised skepticism over the Department of Transportation’s decision to withdraw from the Gateway Program Development Corp. last week.

With Alex Bazeley

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