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A new a bi-state commission would be created to secure funding to complete the Gateway Program, a series of passenger rail transportation projects between Newark and New York City, under a bill passed by the Legislature on Thursday.

If signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, A-5570 (Coughlin, Benson)/S-3918 (Weinberg, Diegnan) would allow New Jersey to forge a partnership with New York for the Gateway Development Commission with the ability to receive government grants and loans to finance the projects. Any costs not covered by the federal government will be split equally between New Jersey and New York.

The Gateway project is crucial to New Jersey’s economy. The tunnels between Penn Station in Newark and Penn Station in New York City represent the busiest rail hub in the Western Hemisphere, with about 200,000 passengers riding it each day.

Both 110-year-old tubes in the existing tunnel are in desperate need of repair, which will require closing at least one completely.

NJBIA pointed out last year, the impacts of long-term tunnel closures would create a nightmarish situation in our region. Even one tube along the existing 10-mile tunnel would reduce travel capacity by up to 75 percent.