NEWARK - Some of New Jersey’s Democrats say the state needs a new rail tunnel, and they want the Port Authority to help them get it.

At a news conference Tuesday, Senate President Steve Sweeney said the existing Hudson River tunnels are over 100 years old and were badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy. He said something must be done before it is too late.

“We cannot afford to have a tunnel shut down,” he said. “If a tunnel shuts down, three-fourths of the rail traffic stops with it, which will cripple the economy of this state.”

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg agreed.

“If heaven forbid something happened to the existing tunnel, this whole region would fall apart,” she said. “It’s being held together right now by Scotch tape.”

To correct this, Sen. Sweeney called on the Port Authority to sell at least $3 billion in real estate to begin funding Amtrak’s Gateway Tunnel Project. Construction on the project would take around 10 years to complete.

Sen. Sweeney says he has already spoken to the Port Authority chairman about the idea.