Good afternoon, I’m Kimberly O’Keefe, with the Regional Plan Association, a non-profit urban policy and planning organization serving New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
I am pleased to testify today in support of the recently passed bi-state legislation known as the Gateway Development Commission Act.
RPA has long believed that every megaproject like Gateway must have a guiding organization with a focused mission of delivering on its stated project. That includes conducting the project through its accompanying bureaucracies with a singular focus, which is essential to deliver the project on time and on budget. This Commission must be able to give construction professionals the authority and accountability they need to control budgets, avoiding pitfalls that often plague infrastructure projects of this size. We believe the Gateway Development Commission Act will ensure these important goals can be accomplished.
I would especially like to thank New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, and New York Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Chair Amy Paulin for ensuring that the legislation passed before the end of session this year. Completing this legislation was a crucial step in moving Gateway forward.
We know what the cascading economic effects of a partial tunnel closure or another failure in a different section of the NE corridor would mean. As the only major rail link between New York and New Jersey, Gateway serves 200,000 passengers and 450 trains daily and links 20% of the nation’s economy. Every day of delay adds $1.2 million to the project’s overall cost. Additionally, the many negative health, safety, traffic and environmental consequences that will also snowball as result of failure to act now are also considerable. We cannot afford to delay.
As a representative of the Regional Plan Association, I thank you all very much for the opportunity to provide testimony today.