Revitalizing Transportation in New Jersey
Steve Adubato and Greg Lalevee, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers, discuss the condition of bridges in New Jersey, infrastructure, NJ Transit and the Gateway Project.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I am Steve Adubato. We are coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in beautiful Newark, New Jersey. It is my honor and pleasure to, once again, welcome Greg Lalevee, who is Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825. Which has how many members? 7,100. Tell everyone what you guys do. We're the men and women who operate and maintain heavy construction equipment, cranes, bulldozers, build roads, build bridges, build buildings, all kinds of infrastructure projects. Greg, you've been with us many times talking about infrastructure, jobs, the economy, transportation. Can we go right to the Gateway Tunnel? We had Cory Booker, Senator Cory Booker, United States Senator Cory Booker sitting right here as we were taping yesterday, he said, "If this tunnel is not built," - the Gateway Tunnel, "it is devastating, not just for New Jersey and New York, but for the Northeast Corridor and the nation." You say? Absolutely true. 10% of the US GDP relies on transit between New Jersey and New York. So if we don't get this program done, that's the risk we're taking. What stands in the way? Because I thought that during the Obama Administration dollars had been set aside to do this. What has happened? Well, President Trump came in and said that there was no deal in place. Because it was Obama's deal, not his deal? I don't know the reason why, but he said there was nothing in writing, so in his mind, there was no deal. So at the end of the day, I think we have to get all sides to come together and figure out what they will do, so that we can get this thing done. So people can understand, Greg, why this is not an "Inside the Beltway" - if you will, Washington... or even a Statehouse issue, that it affects everyone. Help people really understand that. Transportation jobs, the economy. Well, we have to keep people moving, keep goods and services moving, if the Gateway Program in its totality were to be built, we're talking about the possibility of having freight rail into New York City, which would take trucks off the road. And so it's a big mobility issue, which is lost productivity. You know, if we lost the trains totally, there'd be an estimated hundred million dollars a day in lost productivity. Let me give you another example. Say one of the tunnels has to be, quote unquote, "shut down for repair" - what happens? We lose three quarters of our train capacity, from 24 trains an hour to 6 trains an hour. It's devastating. How...? How are people, then, going to get back and forth to New York City? I mean it's... right now, we move 450 trains per..."