This press release was originally published by Holland & Knight LLP.
(Washington, D.C.) — A diverse group of businesses and community stakeholders today announced the formation of the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor (CNEC) – a group brought together to realize the Corridor’s potential by advocating for federal infrastructure investment and to pursue an ambitious vision for growth.
CNEC members rely on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) to move and sustain a workforce that contributes $50 billion annually to the American economy. The “NEC Infrastructure Master Plan” estimated that the NEC will need $52 billion over the next 20 years in order to reach a state-of-good-repair ($11.7 billion) and to accommodate future expansions ($40 billion). According to both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, without major investment ($20-$50 billion over the next 20 years) the corridor’s rail infrastructure will be unfit and unsafe to support passenger demand.
“The NEC is a powerful engine of the U.S. economy and the epicenter of sustained urban living,” said Rob Wonderling, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and Chairman of the Chamber’s CEO Council for Growth — a founding member of the CNEC. “Now is the time to advocate for federal infrastructure investment to ensure safety and provide long-term benefits to the NEC’s economic competitiveness.”
The CNEC realizes that the Corridor’s “end users” are the ones most affected by a crumbling rail infrastructure. With economic and population trends predicting even more traffic in the region, the time is now to invest in this key asset. “The Corridor is home to nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population, and it is the fifth largest economy in the world. The long-term health of the corridor will provide a crucial competitive advantage for the Greater Philadelphia region,” said John Fry, President, Drexel University—another founding member of CNEC and the current chair of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.
The Northeast Corridor Commission has done great work to educate people on what needs to be done. In fact, because of their work, most of the projects have been scoped, studied and are ready to commence. However, NEC stakeholders currently lack a cohesive message and an advocacy strategy that demonstrates to Congress the benefits of protecting the NEC and funding its myriad of infrastructure projects. For instance, the recently passed FAST Act provided no dedicated funding for passenger rail, and did little to promote the long-term national significance of the NEC.
Eric Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA– a founding member of CNEC added: “While the FAST Act reauthorized Amtrak and authorized funding for Northeast Corridor infrastructure, funding still needs to be appropriated. The Northeast Corridor Commission did the hard work of identifying the specific projects that must be completed to ensure the future of this critical transportation asset. Siemens USA is a major employer along the NEC, headquartered in Washington, DC. This coalition provides an avenue for business and community stakeholders like us to advocate for new federal investments to complete these projects and ensure a prosperous future for the Northeast region between Washington and Boston.”
About the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor
The Coalition for the Northeast Corridor (CNEC) is a multi-stakeholder coalition formed to advocate for increased infrastructure spending specifically on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Founding members include Alstom, CH2M, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Drexel University, HDR, and Siemens USA. The coalition intends to protect the job-creators, investors, and communities that rely on a vibrant interstate and commuter rail system between Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. by informing and mobilizing stakeholders across the corridor, and by developing and advocating for solutions for the region’s growth.