Gateway Development Corp. announces funding for small portion of project, welcomes Zaro to board

The Gateway Program Development Corp. continues to move forward while hoping the project’s funding issue will get resolved.

On Friday, the GDC officially welcomed Jerry Zaro as the New Jersey representative on the board while announcing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had agreed to fund $12.5 million of work with Amtrak to relocate utilities from the path of Section 3 of the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing project.

Planned in collaboration with Long Island Rail Road and the related companies, the utility relocation project involving LIRR’s emergency services building is a critical path activity that paves for the way for construction of the third and final section of the concrete casing, the GDC said.

The concrete casing preserves the right of way for the future tunnel under the rapidly advancing Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s West Side.

“The GDC appreciates the leadership of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in helping to advance this important work,” GDC Board Chairman Steven Cohen said in a statement. “This is another example of the strong regional partnership moving the ball forward on the most urgent infrastructure project in America.  We cannot continue putting 10 percent of America’s Gross Domestic Product at risk by relying so heavily on 19th century technology.”

Cohen and others also welcomed Zaro to the board.

Zaro is chair of banking and real estate services practice at Sills Cummis & Gross P.C. He has served the last seven consecutive governors of New Jersey in a variety of leadership posts, including chairman of the New Jersey Highway Authority, commissioner of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and as chief of the Office of Economic Growth for the State of New Jersey, a cabinet-level position.

“Jerry Zaro’s experience and enthusiasm for the Gateway Program are a welcome addition to the Board of Trustees,” Cohen and Vice Chairman Anthony Coscia said in a statement. “The state of New Jersey is well represented with Jerry on the team, and we look forward to working collaboratively with him to move the vital Gateway Program forward.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who recommended Zaro for the post, saluted the move.

“At this critical juncture in a project that is our No. 1 transportation infrastructure priority, Jerry’s caliber of experience and commitment to service will ensure the state’s best interests and those of our residents are carefully considered,” he said.

Zaro pledged to do what he can to push the project forward.

“I thank Gov. Murphy for his confidence in entrusting me with this enormous responsibility,” he said. “Gateway, being the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation, is vital to both commerce and commuters, not only in the great state of New Jersey, but to our partners in New York, all along the Northeast Corridor and beyond.  To all stakeholders, I pledge to bring every measure of mind and spirit I possess to this critical project.”

The project still awaits word on possible federal funding formulas. In the meantime, interim Executive Director John Porcari said the GDC is doing as much as it can in anticipation of more funding.

“The GDC is focused entirely on Phase I of the Gateway Program right now — including the Hudson Yards connection to a new tunnel — which will eliminate single points of failure that jeopardize 10 percent of America’s GDP,” he said.

“I commend the Port Authority and Amtrak for their collaboration in identifying and committing this funding. Finishing the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing is an essential step toward construction of a new tunnel.”