New York and New Jersey officials are scaling down the price tag of the trans-Hudson River Gateway Tunnel in an effort to win federal funding – long held up by the Trump administration in what proponents of the project argue is a purely political move.
Under the plan released Friday, the cost for building a new tunnel and renovating the existing one would be scaled down $1.4 billion – from $12.7 billion to $11.4 billion, according to a joint statement from the Gateway Development Corp., the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Amtrak on the updated application submission to the Federal Transit Administration.
That includes a $9.5 billion price tag on building a new tunnel and a $1.8 billion cost for renovating the current tunnel, now over a century old and in sore need of repair, especially following damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The updated funding plan calls for scaling down the input of federal dollars from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant from $6.8 billion to $5.4 billion.
In March, the federal government gave a “medium-low” rating to the tunnel as well as the replacement for the Portal Bridge, making the projects ineligible for the sought-after funding. U.S. transportation officials maintained that the tunnel and bridge projects are the responsibility of both states, neither of which put up enough money to finance the local share of the project, they said.
“We are continuing to do absolutely everything within our power to demonstrate that our states and our partners are 100 percent committed to this project,” GDC Chair Jerry Zaro said in a statement. “We need the Federal Administration in Washington to start to recognize those efforts and meet us halfway.”
Amtrak will put up $1.3 billion for the project, while New York and New Jersey will still put up a combined $5.55 billion to finance the local share of the project, which includes $2.7 billion of 10-year bonds from the Port Authority.
That arrangement would somewhat mirror what had previously been agreed to under the Obama administration—half from the federal government and half from local states.
“With hundreds of millions in savings for taxpayers, the strength of this latest financial submission is further proof that the state of New Jersey and its partners are ready to step up and do whatever is in our power to ensure that construction of the Hudson Tunnel Project moves forward,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement from GDC.
State officials from both New Jersey and New York – as well as their Congressional delegates – have accused the Trump administration of holding the funding as a means to politically twist the arms of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a frequent political opponent of U.S. President Donald Trump.