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Pascrell, Sires, Menendez Lead New Jersey Delegation Urging the Advancement of the Hudson Tunnel Project

WASHINGTON, DC, January 28, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr (D-NJ-09) and Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) led a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the Hudson Tunnel Project. The letter, which was also signed by Reps. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05), and Andy Kim (D-NJ-03), supports the Gateway Program Development Corporation Chairman Jerry Zaro’s proposal that the Trump administration’s One Federal Decision policy be used to complete and publish the Hudson Tunnel Project’s final environmental review. This framework would move the project forward and not allow long delays or government shutdowns to continue affecting this critical infrastructure plan.

The Hudson Tunnel Project, which aims to replace a century-old tunnel system that serves 200,000 daily passengers, is the most urgent transportation infrastructure project in the country. These two tunnels, which have been worn down by decades of daily service and major storms including Superstorm Sandy, are critical to the regional and national economy. However, before construction on the project can advance, DOT must approve the project’s environmental impact review.

“The New Jersey delegation has been demanding for a long time to get the Hudson River Tunnels repaired and upgraded for the 21st century,” said Rep. Pascrell. “I’m proud to continue to lead in this fight with Congressman Sires. We cannot let shutdowns and administrative delays get in the way of advancing the ball on this critical project.”

“My regional colleagues and I have been advocating for repairing and upgrading the Hudson River Tunnels, which serves 200,000 daily passengers,” said Rep. Sires. “The final environmental impact statement is important and has been reviewed by federal transit agency. DOT should adhere to its commitment to eliminate duplication among agencies.”

“The Hudson Tunnel project is critical to our nation and our region’s economy, mobility, and quality of life.  Our local stakeholders worked hard to deliver a thorough and timely environmental review to the Department of Transportation for its approval, but despite those good-faith efforts, that review has been languishing with DOT for nearly a year now,” said Sen. Menendez.  “There’s no reason for the DOT to delay this project further. We’re sitting on a transportation ticking time bomb, and we don’t have the luxury of time to waste.”

In April 2018, DOT was one of several federal agencies to enter a Memorandum of Understanding to establish timely processing of environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects and “eliminate duplication of effort among agencies.” On December 10, 2018, 12 days before the most recent government shutdown began, the Federal Railroad Administration completed its review of the Project’s environmental impact statement and sent it to the Federal Transit Administration for review.

The most recent government shutdown shuttered the agency, putting a stop to the environmental review and preventing the Hudson Tunnel Project from advancing.

A copy of the letter is available here and the text of the letter Reps. Sires and Pascrell led is below.

 

January 28, 2019

The Honorable Elaine Chao, Secretary

United States Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20590

 

Dear Secretary Chao:

 

We write in support of the Gateway Program Development Corporation (GPDC) Chairman Jerry Zaro’s proposal that the Trump Administration’s One Federal Decision (OFD) policy be used to complete and publish the Hudson Tunnel Project’s final environmental review. Long delays and government shutdowns do not need to hinder work on the Hudson Tunnel Project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a positive Record of Decision can be issued in accordance with Executive Order 13807.

 

The Hudson Tunnel Project, which aims to replace a century-old tunnel system that serves 200,000 daily passengers, is the most urgent transportation infrastructure project in the country. These two tunnels, which have been worn down by decades of daily service and major storms, are critical to the regional and national economy. That is why we, along with the GPDC and various state and local partners, have strongly advocated for a thorough and timely review of proposals that are necessary to get the project underway.

 

It has been nearly a year since NJ TRANSIT submitted an Administrative Draft of the final EIS to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for the Hudson Tunnel Project, and three months since FRA worked with project partners to update the EIS. Unfortunately, the FRA forwarded its completed document to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on December 10, 2018, 12 days before the most recent government shutdown. Due to this and the shutdown, which shuttered the agencies that oversee environmental reviews, the FTA’s final EIS has not been completed.

In April 2018, the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) was one of several federal agencies to enter a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish timely processing of environmental reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects under the OFD policy. One of the MOU’s specific goals is to “eliminate duplication of effort among agencies [and] improve the efficiency of project delivery…” We agree with Chairman Zaro that FRA can and should publish the final EIS and issue a positive Record of Decision on the Hudson Tunnel Project that can also serve as final EIS and Record of Decision for the FTA.

 

A Record of Decision is currently required from the FRA and FTA before the project can meet federal funding requirements of each model agency. We respectfully urge you to consider Chairman Zaro’s proposal and allow the FRA’s review of the Hudson Tunnel Project EIS to inform an approved final EIS and Record of Decision that serves as DOT’s OFD.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

____________________________                            ____________________________

Albio Sires                                                                  Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

____________________________                            ____________________________

Robert Menendez                                                       Donald Payne, Jr.

United States Senator                                                 Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

____________________________                            ____________________________

Mikie Sherrill                                                              Bonnie Watson-Coleman

Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

____________________________                            ____________________________

Donald Norcross                                                         Josh Gottheimer

Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

____________________________                           

Andy Kim                                                                  

Member of Congress                                                 

 

 

 

cc. Jerry Zaro, Chairman, Gateway Program Development Corporation

 

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