Trump's greed will ruin the American economy

Donald Trump went to the elections with the slogan "America first" - foreign countries have already felt this on themselves, for example, in the recent decision of the US president to unleash a trade war and impose duties on the supply of steel and aluminum. Ordinary Americans often do not feel the fulfillment of this promise. A striking example of this is the north-eastern railway corridor, the main transport artery on the eastern coast of the United States. The most problematic and most important part of this highway - the tunnel system that connects New Jersey and New York - has long required an expensive upgrade. Delay will cost the US economy very expensive, and the abandonment of a large-scale infrastructure program is even more expensive - the transport artery accounts for up to 20 percent of US GDP. The transport collapse of three trillion dollars - in the article of ""

The North-East Corridor (NEC) is the most important railway system of the East Coast of the United States. The six-lane road, 735 kilometers long, connects the most important economic centers of the east of the country: Washington, Baltimore, Newark (New Jersey), New York, Providence and Boston. NEC is the busiest system of railways in the United States, about 2.2 thousand trains pass through it a day. The operator of the system - as well as the main road user - is the state-owned Amtrak company. In addition to it, there are six more railway companies operating passenger and cargo transportation (MBTA, Shore Line East, Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit, SEPTA and MARC), as well as several other companies, part of the route that passes through the NEC.

The key problem of the highway is the excessive congestion of the site from New Jersey to New York, namely the system of railway tunnels that connects the whole state and the world financial center. Pennsylvania station in Manhattan a day serves about 820,000 passengers or 450 trains - this is the busiest station in the US.

Below the bottom

The system of railway tunnels includes two parts. The first is the northern tunnels that pass under the Hudson River. It's only two lines - one from Newark to Pennsylvania Station of New York, the other - back. The second part is wider - these are four lines from the Pennsylvania station farther east, to Long Island - this tunnel is under the East River. In addition to the Pennsylvania railway station, a railway runs through the NEC - to New Haven and then to Boston.

Tunnels under the Hudson began to build in 1902, the first train through the system of two underground tunnels passed in 1910 - since then this system has only been reconstructed and repaired, the tunnels themselves have been operating for more than 100 years. A similar situation with a less loaded system under the East River - they began to build in 1904, and the first trains also went in 1910. The tunnel under the Hudson is laid at a depth of 22 meters, under the East River - at a depth of 20 meters, both tunnels pass under the rivers.

For more than 100 years of operation of tunnels under the Hudson they were flooded only once - in 2012 Amtrak and New Jersey Transit had to use one of the two tunnels to New York. The cause of the incident was the flooding of one of the tunnels as a result of one of the largest in the history of meteorological observations of hurricane Sandy, as a result of which part of New York and New Jersey literally went under the water.

Since 2003, tunnels under the Hudson at peak hours are forced to work at maximum capacity. The reliability of the two lines has been repeatedly questioned, even by the line engineers themselves, but the 100-year-old road works smoothly until now. In addition to flooding the tunnel and damaging electrical systems, Sandy damaged the concrete tunnel walls and the drainage system that had to be rebuilt.

In 2014, the head of Amtrak, Joseph Bearman, acknowledged that in the "best 20 years from now" the tunnels would have to be closed - they would finally cease to comply with safety standards. Even then, he urged the authorities to take this problem seriously, because the creation of alternative tunnels could take years.

Bury an alternative

The need to create an alternative route came to a serious level of discussion back in 2009. New Jersey Transit began developing a project that could be an alternative to the tunnels under the Hudson. The project envisaged the creation of a completely new branch of the railroad track and the creation of another tunnel under the Hudson of similar capacity, which would also go to the Pennsylvania station in Manhattan. The project cost in 2009 was estimated at 8.7 billion dollars, the project was planned to finish in 2018. However, in 2010 the cross over the project was put by the then governor of New Jersey and the future presidential candidate from the Republican Party Chris Christie. According to him, the project was too expensive, the state authorities were not sure of its implementation at their own expense. Awareness came to Christie when the state has already spent 600 million. The state even had to sue the federal government, which partially allocated money for the project.

In February 2011, the need to create an alternative to the two tunnels came to the federal level - the state-owned Amtrak presented its own project to create a duplicate tunnel under the Hudson called the Gateway Program. In many respects the project was like the one that developed the New Jersey Transit, which is logical, since these companies depend on the underwater roads. Moreover, Amtrak with the help of two senators from New Jersey was able to deduce the discussion of the need for this project to the American parliament. To develop the updated project, Amtrak allocated $ 50 million from its own budget.

In 2011, it was assumed that the creation of a new system would cost $ 13.5 billion, and the completion of the Amtrak project was expected in 2020. However, further complications began - against the backdrop of the flood as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the cost rose to $ 14.5 billion, and then to $ 20 billion. The search for investors of the project was undertaken by Amtrak itself, and here its status did not help it. The company hoped for the active participation of the state authorities (New Jersey and New York), the federal government, private investors, as well as regional companies like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), a two-state joint venture that is engaged in the creation necessary for both states of infrastructure facilities (bridges, tunnels, communications and so on).

In 2015, then-US President Barack Obama called this project "the most important infrastructure that should be built in the United States." Obama promised the governors of New Jersey and New York that the federal center will take on 50 percent of the costs, and the rest the neighboring states will have to find their own. True, this proposal did not receive legislative reinforcement - and remained in Obama's personal letter to two governors. Both states agreed to Obama's proposal. Especially considering that the total construction costs have already been estimated not at $ 20 billion, but 30 billion - this amount includes the creation of all the concomitant tunnels of infrastructure.

The new US administration immediately froze the project, and the head of the US Transportation Agency (reporting to the Ministry of Transport) Jane Williams stated that there are no arrangements for spending on the Gateway Program. Moreover, some sources in the agency, commenting on the status of the project, generally refused to recognize its federal level, calling the Gateway Program a "local project". Finally, there was also Donald Trump, who insists that all the expenses for this project that were put into the federal budget should be canceled. To do this, he specifically met with the House Speaker Paul Ryan that Republicans in the House voted against the project.

In the new budget for the project was laid $ 950 million. Trump insists that its implementation "not allocated a penny." And opponents of Trump on this issue a lot both from the Democrats, and among the Republicans, including the former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. For Democrats, this is another reason to crucify Trump for his expenditure policy. Representatives of Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and both states insist that it is impossible to postpone any longer, closing at least one tunnel for a long reconstruction will cost the US economy trillions of dollars, not to mention the transport collapse.

Be careful, the doors are closing

Opposition leader Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer is representing New York in the upper house of the American parliament, of course, he is for implementing a multi-billion dollar project. "If we do not build these tunnels, the entire US economy will collapse. New York and New Jersey will accurately cover a protracted recession, and possibly the whole country," he says.

The words of Sumer are not unfounded. Tunnels under the Hudson are a non-alternative part of the north-eastern railway corridor. This highway accounts for up to 20 percent of the total GDP of the United States, or about three trillion dollars a year. The railroad directly or indirectly provides about 30 percent of all jobs in the US.

The NEC accounts for more than 25 percent of Amtrak's ticket revenues - closing tunnels will put the biggest carrier in the US under attack. The disabling of at least one tunnel will reduce the capacity of the highway by 75 percent - passengers will either have to look for an alternative that will overload other transport facilities, or to give up jobs, which will provoke a local collapse in the labor market. Refusal to implement the project can be very expensive throughout the country. It is expected that the fate of new tunnels under the Hudson will be resolved by voting in parliament until March 23.

Catherine Stone
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