file photo by Boyd Loving

Nicholas Pugliese , State House Bureau, @nickpugzPublished 5:27 p.m. ET April 19, 2017

Several of New Jersey’s high-ranking elected officials gathered in Newark Penn Station Wednesday to present the federal government with a dire warning: either follow through on a commitment to fund a portion of the $24 billion trans-Hudson rail project known as Gateway or, in the words of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, prepare for “traffic Armageddon.”

“We are in a state of crisis,” said Booker, a Democrat. “In fact, we are long past a state of crisis and New Jersey residents are feeling it just about every single day.”

Gateway, perceived as one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country, would double rail capacity between Newark and New York City by digging a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and upgrading aging bridges, among other improvements.

But it’s a race against time. The current two-track tunnel under the Hudson River was badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy and will need to be repaired in the next 20 years, reducing train service by 75 percent.