PHOENIX - New York and New Jersey officials are renewing their push to get the federal government to make good on its commitment to pay for half of the $12.7 billion Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project after announcing that all the state and local money is now lined up.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced in a joint statement on Dec. 14 that they had secured commitments to fund their share of the tunnel under a 2015 framework agreement in which the federal government will fund the other half. The project would allow the advancement of a long-stalled dual-track rail tunnel under the Hudson River, a project considered by policymakers to be of enormous regional significance.
"The Gateway Tunnel is critical to the long term vitality of the entire Northeast region and one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country," Cuomo said. "New York State is stepping up to fund its share of the financial commitment as we rebuild our infrastructure all across the state. Now the federal government must fulfill its commitment to fund the other half and make this urgent, long-overdue project a reality."
The governors, along with congressional members representing both states, met with President Trump back in September and tried to impress upon him the importance of the project. They believe the work is necessary to avoid the “disastrous scenario” of a closure of one of the two tubes of the existing Amtrak North River Tunnel, which would slow rail traffic to a crawl.
The future of federal funding for the project has been in question because Trump’s proposed budget stripped some of the federal money that was projected to pay for it. The original agreement took place during the Obama administration.
"The commitments we make today mark a pivotal milestone in the construction of the Hudson River Tunnel Project, and builds on the work we began earlier this year with the early construction of the Portal North Bridge Project,” Christie said. “It positions the project to immediately compete for federal Capital Investment Grant funds.”
“Together with the rehabilitation of the existing tunnel, this project will result in the crucial Northeast Corridor having four tracks between New Jersey and New York under the Hudson River, allowing for increased ridership in the future,” Christie said.
Under the commitments announced this month, Cuomo will propose in the state's executive budget an appropriation each year over a 35-year period to pay debt service on a $1.75 billion fixed-interest loan under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing program. New Jersey Transit will commit $1.9 billion, while the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will also chip in $1.9 billion for a combined total of $5.55 billion.
Major construction is scheduled to commence in 2018 pending the commitment of the federal share of funding.