Group Questions Chao’s Kentucky Favoritism As Gateway Tunnel Continues to Decay

Secretary Chao has stalled a crucial infrastructure project while favoring Transportation projects in Kentucky

WASHINGTON – Following reports last week that Elaine Chao gave an undue amount of attention to Kentucky at the expense of other states, the Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Peter DeFazio, sent a letter to the Inspector General asking for an investigation into Chao’s Kentucky favoritism. But while Chao used her position to favor the state that her husband represents in the Senate, she has failed to move on the most significant infrastructure project in our country, the Gateway tunnel that is critical to the Northeast, an area responsible for 20% of our nation’s GDP.

“We applaud Chairman DeFazio and others for calling for an investigation into Chao for favoring Kentucky projects over other states. Chao’s favoritism towards Kentucky isn’t victimless – a critical infrastructure project is in dire need of repairs,” said Lizzy Price, director of Restore Public Trust. “The Gateway tunnel is one of the most significant infrastrastructure projects and the economy of an entire region depends on its completion, but Chao has stood in its way for years. 

“Americans deserve to know why Chao funnelled an unprecedented amount of DOT funding to Kentucky while standing in the way of this important project. Does Chao only follow through with projects that benefit her or her family? What political game is Chao playing by stalling Gateway, and who is benefitting from her inaction? Congress must expand its investigation into Chao to get to the bottom of her efforts to hinder the Gateway tunnel’s repairs.”

The Gateway tunnel is one of the nation’s most significant pieces of transportation infrastructure. Experts have judged that the tunnel, which carries 200,000 passengers daily under the Hudson River, could fail at any time, paralyzing the densely populated Northeast Corridor that runs from Boston to Washington, D.C.

Secretary Chao and the Trump administration have slow-rolled and obscured environmental approvals needed to proceed with the project without explanation for months, despite desperate calls from lawmakers in the region. The consequences of Chao’s political retaliation are dire. The Regional Plan Association (RPA) estimates that if the federal government does not repair the Gateway tunnel, the following financial losses could result: 

  • A $16 billion loss in the regional economy;
  • $407 million lost in additional automobile crashes;
  • Nearly $1 billion lost in truck delays;
  • Nearly $7 billion lost in the form of federal, state, and local tax revenue;
  • And a $22 billion drop in real estate values.

Last month, Restore Public Trust announced their plans to use Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, open records requests, and related litigation to expose Secretary Chao’s work to undermine the Gateway Tunnel Project for political retaliation, once again affirming Chao’s commitment to using her government position for her own purposes instead of the public good.

For more information on the campaign encouraging Congress to look into the full scope of Chao’s corruption, please visit

Press Release

Elaine ChaoPress Release

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