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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday proposed a new nonprofit development corporation that would come up with a financing plan to pay for the construction of new rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York.The proposed Gateway Development Corp. would help advance Amtrak's Gateway program to construct new tunnels to expand train capacity into New York City from New Jersey and elsewhere on the Northeast Corridor, Schumer said in a speech, which was reported by several New York news media outlets.Schumer's proposal follows a number of recent power breakdowns and other infrastructure problems in the existing 106-year old Hudson River tunnels, which led to long delays for New Jersey Transit riders. The tunnels are owned by Amtrak, but many of the trains that run through them are owned and operated by NJ Transit. The tunnels have had aging infrastructure problems for some time, but they sustained severe and permanent damage during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.Amtrak’s Gateway program is a comprehensive plan to expand capacity and improve rail infrastructure into Manhattan. A major component is to build a new Hudson River tunnel that would allow the closing of the older structures for repair. Although the railroad has made progress with the plan, it lacks the funding to complete it. Last year, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman estimated the Gateway program would cost about $16 billion.Yesterday, Schumer acknowledged Amtrak's Gateway efforts to date, but added that completing the project will require the cooperation from other government partners and transit agencies."We are fast approaching a regional transportation Armageddon: the busiest rail line in the US stranded without a way into NY," Schumer said on his Twitter account. "Gateway will take energy, commitment, several leaps of faith, but above all else, it will take cooperation."Boardman agreed that beginning work on the Gateway project, including constructing a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, was "of the utmost urgency to both the region and the entire Northeast Corridor," according to a prepared statement reported by the Asbury Park Press."To do that, we need to develop a true partnership between Amtrak, the states and their transit agencies, and the federal government as soon as possible," Boardman said.
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