The Gateway Program, one of the most urgent infrastructure projects in the country, is a comprehensive rail investment program that would improve current services, add resiliency and create new capacity for a critical section of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) – the most heavily used passenger rail line in the country. The Gateway Program Development Corporation (GDC), a New Jersey not-for-profit entity, was established to oversee and deliver the Gateway Program, with support from federal and local partner agencies.
The NEC is the most heavily used passenger rail line in the U.S., with more than 2,000 trains per day carrying approximately 800,000 daily riders across eight states and Washington D.C. It serves a region that is home to 17 percent of the U.S. population and 97 Fortune 500 company headquarters, and an area that contributes 20 percent of the national GDP. The NEC is a vital artery in the region and a critical element of the national transportation network, linking millions of people to good jobs, and connecting this region with the rest of the country.
The Gateway Program would maintain resiliency and increase capacity along a 10-mile stretch of the NEC between Newark, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Station in New York City (PSNY), a section of the NEC that handles approximately 450 trains per day and over 200,000 daily Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT passengers, and directly serves PSNY – the busiest rail station in America. This segment of the NEC includes the North River Tunnel under the Hudson River, which has deteriorated due to age, intensive use, and damage sustained from saltwater exposure during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The Gateway Program’s Phase 1 is currently underway, and includes two projects: the Portal North Bridge Project and the Hudson Tunnel Project. Each is vital to the functioning of the NEC, and addresses single points of failure that can have catastrophic impacts to the region’s economy and environment.
The Portal North Bridge Project will replace the current, functionally obsolete Portal Bridge – a 106-year-old two-track, railroad swing bridge spanning the Hackensack River between Secaucus and Kearny, New Jersey – with a new, high-level, two-track fixed span. The new bridge will increase rail transit capacity by an estimated 11%, and significantly improve service reliability by replacing the movable span, which interrupts operations and is prone to mechanical failures, and is the current cause of frequent delays. The Project is fully designed and permitted, and ready to proceed with construction as early as Summer 2017.
The Hudson Tunnel Project is currently in the environmental review process, and includes three components:
The North River Tunnel is a critical link in the region’s trans-Hudson commuting system, and the Hudson River Tunnel Project is urgently needed. A closure of just one tube could reduce capacity by as much as 75%, and force tens of thousands of commuters and travelers into other modes of travel, pushing them on to already congested bridges, tunnels and streets in both states. The resulting congestion would lead to massive degradation of air quality throughout the region, with the movement of people and goods to and from the nation’s largest regional economy becoming severely constrained.
When complete, the Project would allow for the rehabilitation of the North River Tunnel without disrupting existing levels of train service, and provide redundant capability and increased operational flexibility for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT.