Trump Official: Hudson River Tunnels Can Be Repaired Without New Channel

Mack Rosenberg
February 27, 2020 - 7:19 pm
Hudson River Tunnel / Gateway

Tania Savayan/The Journal News, The Journal News via Imagn Content Services, LLC

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) — A Trump administration official on Thursday suggested the Hudson River train tunnels should be repaired before the government commits to building a new one.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the House Appropriations transportation subcommittee though plans to construct a new tunnel that would transport Amtrak trains between New Jersey and New York remains stalled, lawmakers should not rule out the possibility of fixing the current century-old infrastructure.

“Beginning rehab work in the near-term is the right move, and not waiting years for the construction of a new tunnel beforehand,” she said. “New and innovative methods for repairing the North River Tunnel while still in operation, could allow Amtrak to commence repairs in this tunnel as much as 10 years ahead of schedule.”

Chao notes that she is considering taking a note from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and is suggesting the federal government bring in outside engineering experts to assess the 110-year-old tunnel – like Cuomo did with the Canarsie Tunnel.

“I do hope that the plans to continue to repair the current tunnel move forward,” the transportation secretary said.

However, Hudson Valley Congresswoman Nita Lowey says she is concerned the federal government might lose sight of a new tunnel if repairs begin on the old one.

State officials maintain that a new tunnel is desperately needed so the existing channels can be closed while undergoing repairs.

Chao didn’t seem to disagree, but added that there is another issue still standing in the way.

“We can’t do anything unless and until that rating by Hudson Tunnel gets improved,” she said.

The agency has currently marked the Gateway Tunnel Project a medium-low rating, meaning it is not eligible for federal grant dollars.