The Meadowlands Chamber brought together business leaders and policymakers at its Trans-Hudson Summit on Wednesday, September 12 to discuss transportation improvements in the Meadowlands and New York metropolitan area. The stellar lineup of speakers included Chairman of Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Kevin J. O’Toole and a team of associates from Port Authority. O’Toole’s presentation was followed by Trustee of Gateway Program Development Corporation Jerry Zaro, Chief of Public Outreach Gateway Development Corporation Stephen Sigmund and President of New Jersey Alliance for Action Philip J. Beachem.
The proposed $12.7 billion Gateway Plan was the spotlight topic, with speakers in agreement that the century-old tubes need to be replaced.
“We have applied and complied with all the federal requirements for this funding. But at the moment, as we sit here today, Gateway is being held a political hostage,” said Zaro.
“This issue here, to me, is a strictly political issue between two individuals: the president of the United States and Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York,” said Philip Beachem.
The Trump administration has declined the spending bill that would fund Gateway, saying that the proposal would use federal loans for a project that that primarily benefits local commuters rather than national as a whole. But advocates take a strong stance that Gateway is a national issue, not a local issue.
“It’s about Wall Street — the financial capital, not of the country, but of the world — and it’s about our national security,” said Beachem.
O’Toole, who is a Republican, decline to discuss the Gateway politics, and instead asserted confidence in moving the project forward.
“It’s incredibly important. It’s critical to this country, to this region, that we actually get this project. I’m confident that we have the team in place that’s going to get it done,” O’Toole said. “I don’t want to comment on the politics of it.”
The Meadowlands Chamber will also bring together business leaders to discuss more issues of economic development at its upcoming Thought Leaders Conference on Monday, October 22.