Sen. Booker proposes bill to improve railroad

Sen. Booker proposes bill to improve New Jersey’s rail system.

Sen. Booker proposes bill to improve New Jersey’s rail system. (5/4/15)

NEWARK - Several railroad officials spoke in front of the Subcommittee for Transportation at the request of Sen. Cory Booker to push for a new bill that would overhaul New Jersey’s rail system.

Time and Superstorm Sandy have badly damaged the railway between Newark Penn Station and New York City, a stretch of heavily traveled train tracks. At peak travel times, a train goes through every 2.5 minutes.

"It is essentially a two-lane highway into New York City that was built a century ago. We are heavily dependent on it, but we've made no major investments to expand our improvement,” says Amtrak Board of Directors Chair Anthony Coscia.

The funding-authorization law that includes Amtrak expired back in 2013 and Congress is yet to restart it. Sen. Booker hopes Monday’s testimony will help to work toward a new bill.

“[The railroad] is a major artery to the body of our country,” says Sen. Booker. “We cannot allow it to wither and die, and we also cannot wait until another crisis."

Amtrak's Gateway Project includes new tunnels and more tracks. They've begun some of the work and have a goal of finishing the tunnels in 10 years, and the entire project in 15 years, if they have the money to complete it.

A version of the bill was approved by the House back in March and now awaits the Senate.

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