Cuomo, Christie commit to funding their halves of Gateway Tunnel

An NJ Transit train pulls into New York Penn Station. 7/7/17 New York N.Y

The announcement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie resolves questions about how the states would fulfill a promise to provide half of the funds toward the $12.7 billion Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project, among the country's largest infrastructure programs.

Chris Christie announced in a joint statement on December 14 that they had secured commitments to fund their share of the tunnel under a 2015 framework agreement in which the federal government will fund the other half.

Under a framework he and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put forward, NY will provide $1.75 billion for the Gateway Program, New Jersey Transit will pay $1.9 billion and the Port Authority $1.9 billion.

Amtrak said the existing tunnel could fail in 10 to 15 years due to damage from Superstorm Sandy.

The Hudson River Tunnel project is critical to the regional and national economy, according to New York, New Jersey and Amtrak officials.

In the first decade of this century, however, construction was about to begin on new rail tunnels into NY.

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If one tube in the existing two-tube Hudson River tunnel fails before the project is completed, train service between New Jersey and NY would be reduced by 75 percent, according to Amtrak.

In the meantime, the commute got worse and Superstorm Sandy hammered home the reality that the century-old tunnels that carry more than 300,000 commuters in to NY daily were too old to carry that load.

"Under Gov. Christie, New Jersey has consistently been the last one to the table, both on Gateway and its predecessor, Access to the Region's Core", said Nick Sifuentes, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, citing the commuter rail project Christie killed in 2010.

Together, the three funding commitments will cover 100 percent of the local share for the most urgent, time sensitive elements of the project: the construction of a new tunnel and the Hudson Yards concrete casing, which total $11.1 billion of the $12.7 billion construction cost.

The governors, along with congressional members representing both states, met with President Trump back in September and tried to impress upon him the importance of the project.

NY plans to allocate money annually over 35 years to service a $1.75 billion loan, state budget director Robert Mujica Jr. wrote in a letter to the Department of Transportation on Wednesday. They believe the work is necessary to avoid the "disastrous scenario" of a closure of one of the two tubes of the existing Amtrak North River Tunnel, which would slow rail traffic to a crawl.