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Rail News: Amtrak

Cuomo, Christie propose 50-50 funding solution for Hudson rail tunnel project


Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey sent a letter yesterday to President Barack Obama in which they offered a funding solution to the proposed construction of a new Hudson River rail tunnel: the two states and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would come up with a plan to pay half the cost if the federal government pays the rest.

In the letter, the governors said they were writing to Obama "in an attempt to move the stalled project forward by putting a funding proposal on the table that we believe is realistic, appropriate and fair: split the responsibly for the cost."

If the federal government provides grants to pay for half of the project — estimated to cost $20 billion — the Port Authority "will take responsibility for developing a funding plan for the other half, convening all relevant agencies, and utilizing the proposed federal low-interest loan, local funding sources, and other funding strategies necessary to complement the federal grant commitment," the letter stated.

The letter also acknowledges that replacing the aging rail tunnel is a national priority. Not only does the tunnel connect New York and New Jersey, it is the "linchpin" for Amtrak's entire 457 mile-long Northeast Corridor route that serves eight states and the District of Columbia. The existing 105-year old tunnel’s deteriorating condition is "well beyond critical in its need for repair," a situation that was exacerbated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The letter came a month after Christie met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and agreed to work with him on a plan to build the tunnels, which are part of Amtrak's Gateway Program. Cuomo did not attend that meeting.

In a prepared statement, Amtrak officials said they look forward to working with a coalition of state and federal leaders to build the tunnels. The statement read:

"We applaud Govs. Christie and Cuomo for their advocacy of the Gateway Program and their proposal for a Federal-State partnership to fund this critical project. We thank Secretary Foxx for his persistent leadership and efforts to engage the entire region in this national transportation priority. We appreciate the continuous support we have received from the New York-New Jersey congressional delegations. Specifically, Sen. Schumer has been and continues to serve as a vital catalyst for this project through his recent proposal and public support. Similarly, Sens. Booker and Menendez have worked tirelessly to bring the appropriate parties together and develop a path ahead."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/16/2015