Regional Plan Association Testimony Presented At GDC Monthly Board Meeting

My name is Dani Simons, I am the Vice President for Strategic Communications at Regional Plan Association and the head of the Build Gateway Now Coalition, which represents over 35 organizations national and local, on both sides of the river.

Over the past many months we’ve started to organize the folks that rely on the Hudson River Tunnel, Portal North Bridge and other components of the Gateway Program. We’ve gained over 2,000 followers on Twitter and developed an email list of nearly 1000 people.

While they represent only a small fraction of 200,000 people that travel through the Hudson River Tunnel each day, or the hundreds of thousands more that would be impacted if the Tunnel was to fail before the Gateway Program could be built, these folks are tracking this project closely and ready to take action to ensure it gets done.

They are also watching the new Congress, as are we. We are happy to hear leaders from both parties saying that infrastructure is an area ripe for bipartisan cooperation.

We want to drive the point home to our newly elected leaders in Washington. Getting the Gateway Program funded and built, isn’t just important, it needs to be at the top of the list.

Today we’re having cake to mark the 108th birthday of the critical infrastructure that connects our region. But it’s not a happy birthday. The Hudson River Tunnel and Portal North Bridge are not aging well. And if they fail, it threatens the economy of a region that generates 10% of the nation’s economic output. And if it happens under the watch of these new leaders, their constituents will hold them squarely accountable.

It’s not just the woman who commutes by train to her banking job in Manhattan, who will have to wake up at 4 am to drive to work. It’s the small business owner in Pennsylvania who ships handmade pretzels to New York bodegas that will no longer be able to afford the cost of trucking since our region’s roadways will be choked with traffic at all hours of the day.

We have local commitments to funding this project. Now with a new Congress, we need the Feds to step up with their match.

The Gateway partners submitted a draft EIS nine months ago. Now we’re ready for the Feds to deliver a healthy, bouncing Record of Decision.

If our new Congress and other leaders in D.C. want to get serious about bipartisan cooperation, Gateway is the perfect project to prove it.