Feds Warn Against NY-NJ Infrastructure Boondoggle

Tunnel Drilling
"What are you digging there?" 'Oh, not much, just a big hole, to throw taxpayer money into..."

New York and New Jersey have been notified by the federal government that the request for the CIG – Capital Investment Grants of above $5.5 billion for their tunnel projects may eventually “exhaust the program entirely,” and might again ruin all the hopes of their proposal being adjusted in the infrastructure plans underway by the Trump Administration.

The Gateway Tunnel Project has faced a lot of criticism from the Trump administration, as the states have proposed to pay for the project by themselves. They proposed this by paying for the project, half by using up federal grants and the rest with help of loans offered by the federal system. The plan was received with severe criticism and was called ‘entirely serious’, the concerns of the Trump administration were later formalized in a letter addressed to the state officials in December 2017 by the Federal Transit Administration.

“The assumption that $5 billion or more in CIG grant funds will be available to New York and New Jersey for this one project lacks recognition of the impact that such funding would have on the availability of funds for the remainder of the country,” said K. Jane Williams, FTA’s deputy administrator. “As contemplated, this request could exhaust the CIG program entirely.”

Williams, further, said that there are no exact examples for the CIG grants to be used to fund almost 50 percent of mega projects like the tunnel projects and further went on categorize it as the “local project where 9 out of 10 passengers are local transit riders.”

She stressed that the 50-50 of the funding of the project says that they had agreed upon with the former administration, practically doesn’t exist, however, she maintained that the agency is “open to paths” that would allow the project to advance forth.

New York in reply to William’s letter argued that it is of utmost necessity that the upcoming infrastructure plan “must begin with Gateway.”

“We look forward to engaging with the administration and the federal government in 2018 to move this critical project forward, and are heartened by your willingness to explore paths to enable it,” the state budget director Robert Mujica said in her letter. “We look forward to hearing details of the federal plan for reviving the nation’s infrastructure, and hope that any national program with the ambition to improving our infrastructure must begin with Gateway.”

White House, in its statement, said that it would not be their inclination to fund a project that would restrict their spending on other infrastructure plans needed elsewhere all over the country.

“We’re glad to see that members from New York would like to maintain that line of communication and welcome their continued participation as we work to fix our broken infrastructure system so that all qualified and responsible projects can go from concept to construction quickly and efficiently,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said.

Furthermore, a spokesperson for New Jersey governor, Chris Christie shared that she was confident that the administration would soon address the funding of the tunnel project in its upcoming infrastructure plan.

“There is no doubt the administration understands the economic significance of the Hudson Tunnel Project, and the urgency of moving this forward for the Boston-Washington corridor,” said Brian Murray. “We are confident that, as the White House advances an infrastructure proposal this year, federal funding for the most important transportation project in the United States will be addressed.”