Testimony given at the Gateway Development Corporation monthly board meeting September 28, 2018 by Dani Simons, Vice President for Strategic Communications
My name is Dani Simons, I am the Vice President for Strategic Communications at the Regional Plan Association and the head of the Build Gateway Now Coalition, which represents nearly 30 organizations national and local, on both sides of the river.
For years people have talked about the potential impacts if the Hudson River tunnels fail. When I first started at RPA, I imagined failure as a big, single catastrophic event like the bridge collapse in Minneapolis or more recently Genoa, Italy.
But that cinematic vision is just one version.
I am here to point out that in recent weeks, and to a certain degree over the past many months, we have been witnessing failure. Each time Portal Bridge has gotten stuck open, every time a signal fails in the tunnel and commuters are delayed, and when pieces of metal puncture train roofs, this is a slow motion failure of century-old infrastructure.
In short, the Hudson Tunnels and Portal North Bridge are already failing. We must build the Gateway Program now.
Taken together, these incidents mean people can’t count on getting to work, travel becomes difficult, and rider safety is increasingly at risk. The economy suffers, people’s health suffers, home values suffer and the environment suffers as people abandon public transit.
The good news is, these interruptions and delays are getting people’s attention.
To their credit, and with our applause, Governor Murphy has solidified local funding for Portal North Bridge, and both Governors Murphy and Cuomo are working to move the project forward.
But we still need more. We need New Jersey, New York, Amtrak and the federal government to all work together, actively with urgency, to get the tunnel built, because right now there is still not a real partnership.
We still don’t have a Federal commitment, even though our region generates 10% of the nation’s economic output.
And each day our region relies on tunnels you might find in Hogwart’s basement.
We are pleased at the steady progress the Gateway Development Corporation is making to put in place the project management infrastructure that will be needed to put Federal funding, when it arrives, to immediate and productive use.
At RPA and Build Gateway, we are committed to working with you to make sure this project gets the attention and support it needs to get done, and get done with speed.