Two dozen U.S. House members from New Jersey and New York have urged President Donald Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, to ensure that federal government pay its share of the Gateway Tunnel project.
“New Jersey and New York have committed over $5 billion to make the Gateway Project a reality,” said Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-10th Dist. “It’s time for Washington to uphold its end of the bargain.”
The $30 billion project to build a new train tunnel under the Hudson River and a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River is the region’s top transportation priority. The new tunnel is needed so the existing tubes can be closed temporarily to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Gateway project dealt blow by feds
Payne and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., acted after K. Jane Williams, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, said there was no funding agreement between Washington and the states of New Jersey and New York to fund the new tunnels under the Hudson River.
Payne called Williams’ statement “patently false.”
President Barack Obama’s administration had agreed to share the costs of the project with New Jersey and New York.
Every New Jersey House member except Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen signed the letter, as did 11 lawmakers from New York.
Frelinghuysen, R-11th Dist., met with Williams after sending his own letter to her that made it clear that he believed the federal government needs to share the construction costs.
“There has long been agreement among federal, state and local officials that the Gateway project is an urgent national infrastructure priority,” Frelinghuysen wrote to Williams.
“I believe it is unrealistic for the administration to expect the most important infrastructure project in the country to move forward without full participation and investment from the Federal Transit Administration and Department of Transportation,” he wrote.
Trump had proposed shutting off an important source of funding for Gateway by limiting the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program, also known as “New Starts,” to projects with contracts in place. Gateway is not yet at that stage.
Nevertheless, as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Frelinghuysen secured $900 million in the House spending bill for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
It remains to be seen whether the money will be in the final legislation now being negotiated between the White House and congressional leaders.
To help ensure federal participation, Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., called for placing a U.S. Transportation Department representative on the board overseeing Gateway.
The department pulled its representative from the Gateway board last year, saying it was a conflict of interest to serve on the board of a project that the federal government could fund.
Gottheimer announced the “Get on Board to Fix the Tunnel Act” at the Oradell train station on Friday. He…