NY-NJ Gateway 'agreement' called off by Feds

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NEW YORK CITY — The $13 Billion Gateway Tunnel Project between New York Penn Station and northern New Jersey is now a debate between the Federal government and New York and New Jersey state officials.

“We consider it unhelpful to reference a nonexistent 'agreement' rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders," K. Jane Williams, Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator wrote to New York State officials Dec. 29.

Williams was referring to a cost-sharing agreement worked out in December between New Jersey, New York and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It was originally negotiated by then-President Barack Obama's Department of Transportation, which included the FTA in 2015. Then N.J. Gov. Chris Christie; N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo; and U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Corey Booker, D-N.J., agreed with Obama-era officials to split the project's cost 50-50 between the states and the federal government.

Under President Donald Trump's administration, federal underwriting for new tunnels is gone, while the lone existing tunnel built decades ago needs massive repairs.

“To refer to the Gateway Program as a ‘local project’ is unrealistic as its breadth influences the entire country and our economy,” says Rail Passenger Association President and CEO Jim Mathews.

Of the total of almost 80 million people a year traveling through the Hudson River Tunnel, the 10 percent that ride Amtrak are about 25 percent of the total Amtrak passengers. Of those 86 percent who arrive or depart from New York Penn Station, many travel from states other than New Jersey or New York.

Gateway Development Corp. Executive Director John Porcari says he was confident an agreement would be reached with the federal government, as Gateway planners keep working until a funding solution materializes.
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