Booker, Christie call for rebuilding infrastructure

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Gov. Chris Christie hosted a joint news conference Wednesday with and other New Jersey leaders to invite the Trump administration's transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, to tour the tunnels and bridges connecting New York and New Jersey in person so she can see the "crisis that we're in," Booker said.

"The busiest river crossing in North America has a century-old inadequate infrastructure that is causing havoc within this region," Booker said.

Booker, Christie, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and New York and New Jersey hope to retain the government funding promised by the Obama administration to move forward with the $20 billion proposed Gateway Tunnel project, expected to double train capacity beneath the Hudson River and reduce the impact should another Superstorm Sandy knock an existing tunnel out of commission.

"Truly a traffic Armageddon because should these trains fall our region becomes crippled," Booker said.

This invitation comes not even a week after a thousand passengers spent three hours stuck in a tunnel beneath the river and many thousands more crammed into Penn Station and stood around jostling, grumbling, and later stampeding while waiting for the continent's busiest river crossing to reopen.

Amtrak blamed one of a series of derailments in the weeks leading up to Friday's disabled train incident on a preexisting track condition that it admitted knowing about ahead of time. Christie then instructed New Jersey Transit to stop paying Amtrak for use of its rails beneath the river.

"This is the only profitable line that Amtrak has in the entire country -- the Northeast Corridor -- and to not invest in the only line that is profitable is bad business even for government," Christie said.

In 2010, Christie killed a plan to dig a new train tunnel beneath the Hudson. During his seven years in office, New Jersey Transit has seen its state subsidy slashed by 90 percent.

"That's done. That's history," Booker said. "And I hate that I have to revisit that all the time."

The Trump administration has promised a trillion-dollar infrastructure package but has yet to announce where or how it plans to allocate that investment.

"I've already spoken to the president about this, so the president is well aware of my point of view on this project," Christie said.