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Trump administration axes funding for critical Gateway tunnel project

East News Transportation
Trump administration axes funding for critical Gateway tunnel project. A NJ Transit train pulls into the station. (Jason Smith/Flickr)

Right before the holiday weekend, the Trump administration pulled federal support for the Gateway tunnel, a crucial Northeast infrastructure project that could affect the 200,000 New Yorkers and New Jerseyans who commute by train every day, as well as Amtrak riders.

Without federal funding, the $12.7 billion Gateway tunnel project is D.O.A. Experts say the aging tunnel under the Hudson River, a key connection on the Northeast corridor, needs to be replaced as soon as possible to avoid a catastrophic system failure that would leave Penn Station–bound New Jersey Transit riders stranded on the other side of the river. Stakeholders presented an updated version of the 2015 plan to the Federal Transit Administration, an office within the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the agency replied on December 29 by reneging on a payment plan forged under President Barak Obama.

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation had agreed to the funding proposal put forth by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Charles Schumer and Senator Corey Booker. That proposal would have the states and the federal government split the costs of the project evenly, as states commonly loan money from the federal government to pay for major infrastructure projects.

After multiple news outlets reported on the funding pull-out, federal official told Crain’s that the U.S. DOT understands the project is important and is “open to an arrangement for underwriting it that does not count a federal loan repaid by the states toward the local contribution.”

Even though Trump’s forthcoming infrastructure plan allegedly includes $1 trillion in projects, the plan relies on sources outside the federal government, including private investors, to deliver 80 percent of the money.

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