In a political climate where the president is trying to get $6 billion for a border wall, much of America’s infrastructure is in bad need of repairs. New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, is spearheading a campaign to get the federal government to commit to helping fund renovations on the New Jersey’s North River Tunnels. The final cost of these repairs could be around $13 billion.
The North River Tunnels were built between 1904 and 1908. This pair of tunnels carries Amtrak and New Jersey Transit rail lines under the Hudson River. As you can imagine, these tunnels have gotten tremendous usage over the years as the city of New York has grown. Approximately 200,000 passengers travel each day on about 400 trains.
Superstorm Sandy Damaged the North River Tunnels
Though the state of New York has kept up with regular maintenance over the years, all things wear out over time and these tunnels are no exception. After Superstorm Sandy, the tunnels were extensively damaged by seawater flooding. Though president Trump has repeatedly denied that the Obama administration agreed to pay half the cost of repairs, Governor Murphy continues his struggle to get the necessary funding.
In a recent press release from the governor’s office, Murphy stated that if the Hudson River tubes were to be shut down for even one day, the economic impact would be around $100 million. That makes it apparent that the tubes are completely necessary for transporting people safely to their destination. However, as the condition of the tubes declines, there’s no way of knowing how safe they really are.
How Long Can the North River Tunnels Last?
Some experts believe the tubes in the North River Tunnels can only be operated another 10 to 15 years without major renovations. Another point to be made is that if this region were to suffer another major flooding event like Superstorm Sandy, the tubes could be rendered completely inoperable. This would leave the areas around New York City with no way to get to Manhattan and other prime locations.
Amtrak owns and operates the tunnels and they have the support of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the state of New York. While in office, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, made some headway in negotiating with the president to gain the necessary funds for the renovation. Since then, the president has met with transportation secretary, Elaine Chao and others, but seems unmoved by the videos and photographs of the damages that need repairing.
Will a Serious Accident Occur?
Some officials are concerned that the money will not come until some type of transportation accident occurs that takes the life of dozens of passengers. Often a catastrophic event like this has to happen before officials will take action.
Trump Says No Way!
In the past, Trump has said the long list of critical infrastructure projects that America needs to get done were “more trouble than they’re worth.” Unfortunately, many Americans just take for granted that our public roads and bridges will be safe and carry the traffic each day. They don’t consider what would happen if a major breakdown were to occur.
Lives could be lost and, as stated above, the economic impact would be catastrophic. Many people have suggested other ways to get funding, such as tax increases, a bond program and other programs like this. As yet, those involved have not been able to agree on anything specific.