NYC Lawmakers to Feds: Include Freight Trains in Planned Project

BROOKLYN -

More than a dozen state and city lawmakers are calling on federal officials planning a major transportation project into Manhattan to include freight passage as well.

In a letter to the federal Department of Transportation, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit dated Friday, the legislators say that the planned Gateway Tunnel project from New Jersey to Manhattan would be a waste not to incorporate freight along with passenger rail operations.

“The Gateway Tunnel presents a unique opportunity for our region to catch up with the nation in the share of our freight shipped by rail,” said the letter written by state Sen. Simcha Felder and Councilman David Greenfield and signed onto by a dozen additional lawmakers.

“Trucks currently move more than 98% of freight in New York City. Our overreliance on truck traffic makes our air harder to breathe and our streets more difficult to navigate. It overburdens our infrastructure and challenges our businesses’ ability to grow in place and create jobs locally. Now, with the first new Hudson River rail tunnel in more than a century visible on the horizon, we have never had a better occasion to fix an age old problem, one which has only worsened over time.”

The letter added that “given the rarity with which such enormous and complex projects are undertaken, it is critical that we take full advantage of the possibility now before us; we do not anticipate seeing it again in our lifetimes.”

The other signatories were state Sens. Marty Golden of Brooklyn and Diane Savino of Staten Island; Brooklyn Assembly members Dov Hikind, Helene Weinstein, James Brennan and Peter Abbate; and Councilmen Ben Kallos of Manhattan, Peter Koo of Queens, and Donovan Richards, Rafael Espinal and Vincent Gentile of Brooklyn.