Weinberg Lauds New $11.3B Gateway Tunnel Plan That Does Not Rely on NJ Transit Tolls
TRENTON– Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) today endorsed the submission of a new $11.3 billion Gateway Tunnel plan that for the first time does not rely on tolls on NJ Transit trains to pay for construction costs.
“We made it clear during negotiations over the new Gateway Commission bill that it was the bipartisan intent of the New Jersey Legislature that the new tunnels not be financed out of NJ Transit’s operating budget or on the backs of NJ Transit riders,” Senator Weinberg said. “We are pleased that that the Governors and the current Gateway Commission heard us loud and clear, and that this year’s application for federal funding – unlike past years – does not call for tolls on NJ Transit trains to pay for construction.”
Senator Weinberg teamed up with New York Assembly Authorities Chair Amy Paulin in June to pass Gateway legislation requiring New York and New Jersey each to pay 50% of the local share for the construction of the new Gateway rail tunnels, reconstruction of the existing North River tunnels and construction of a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River.
The senator said she has already met with the Governor’s office to discuss nominations to the expanded Gateway Commission board, and the Legislature’s intent that nominees agree to fund the Gateway project through the Transportation Trust Fund and other borrowing. Governor Phil Murphy has already pledged over $600 million in Economic Development Authority bonds for construction of the Portal Bridge project, she noted.
The Weinberg-Paulin legislation, which was approved overwhelmingly by the New Jersey and New York legislatures, also established requirements for open public meetings and open public records, created conflict-of-interest standards and whistleblower protections, and set public hearing requirements. It also gave
the Governors of New Jersey and New York the same power to veto minutes of the new commission that they have over the Port, requiring them to share responsibility for the commission’s actions.
“The Portal Bridge and the new rail tunnels are a vital part of our strategy to increase the capacity of the mass transit system that is so vital to our New York-New Jersey economic engine,” Senator Weinberg said. “Along with expansion of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the PATH system, the Gateway project is critical to our region’s economic growth and prosperity and the quality of life of our hundreds of thousands of commuters.”