Mechanical problems with the bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey caused more than 300 train delays at Penn Station this past year.

Another problem: the deterioration of the ancient rail tunnel under the Hudson River is responsible for close to 10,000 minutes of train delays since last November.

Elected officials and transit executives have proposed the so-called Gateway Project to finance the needed repairs. But so far, the Trump Administration has rebuffed efforts to provide funding.

The Gateway Program Development Corporation, a non-profit organization created to obtain funding and oversee the work, said Monday it commissioned a poll of commuters about the project.

60 percent say their commutes have gotten worse in the last five years. 85 percent say the project must go forward.

"New Yorkers and people in this region get it,” said Stephen Sigmund of the Gateway Development Corporation. “They know we need to replace a more than century-old bridge and tunnel with 21st Century infrastructure, because what we have right now isn't working."

Initial construction of a new $1.5 billion replacement bridge has begun, even though the federal government has not committed to paying for any of the work.

But little work has been done on the stalled $14 billion plan to replace the 107-year-old Hudson rail tunnel.

"It's sort of [the] Russian Roulette of commuting every day for 200,000 riders,” Sigmund said. “Not only [for] commuters into and out of New York who support New York's economy, but riders up and down the Northeast region."

Even though Long Island Rail Road trains would not use the new bridge or the new tunnel, the Gateway Project is still seen as essential to that commuter railroad.

That's because the LIRR shares tracks and facilities with NJ Transit and Amtrak in and out of Penn Station.

"We don't have any give in the system,” said Tom Wright of the Regional Plan Association. “So that if there's a slight derailment or a slight problem with a train on any of one of the three major operators, there's going to be cascading effects throughout the entire system."

Under President Obama, the federal government had committed to pay for half of the work. But the Trump administration has walked away from that pledge, leaving only questions where the money will come from.


Main story image above courtesy of Amtrak.