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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the U.S. House Appropriations Committee yesterday that a plan to fix the aging Hudson River railroad tunnel would be a "faster and more cost-effective method" than building a new tunnel.Chao, whose department has been criticized for holding up a proposal to build a new tunnel as part of Amtrak's Gateway infrastructure improvement program, said "beginning rehab work in the near term is the right move" as opposed to waiting years for construction of new tunnel tubes, according to a report on northjersey.com. The Hudson River tunnel is the passage under the Hudson River that Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains use to travel between New York and New Jersey.The proposed Gateway plan calls for building two new tubes, transfer train traffic to those and then shut down the other tubes in need of repairs. The tunnel is over a century old and was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012."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 said in her testimony.