New York and New Jersey made a joint announcement on the rejected funding request for their co-project, the “Gateway tunnel.” The Trump Administration rejected their application for assistance, saying that it was an “entirely unserious” project.
Despite being $7 billion short, to even begin the construction project, both the Governors, Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, in a statement released jointly, had said that they are ready to put forward a “commitment to fund 100 percent of states’ half of new Gateway tunnel,” while the federal government could cover the other half of the billion dollar project. The Trump administration did not offer or extended any such proposition. New York and New Jersey both pledged $1.75 billion and $1.9 billion respectively.
The statement also revealed the funding that was offered by the states as federal loans. According to their letters, both, New York and New Jersey, wrote that their portions were to be covering the entire department of Transportation’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing – RRIF loan Program.
A senior administration official, while talking to the news reporters said that the proposal of New York and New Jersey, for funding the half amount of the project through their RRIF loans and the rest with help of Federal Grants, is something that the administration does not look forward to considering.
The officials further added that neither of the states has even started to begin the application process of the RRIF Loans. The application usually requires upfront payments that may be different in their size depending on how worthy the applicant is for the credit. But they are still stuck in the first phase of the application process.
He said, “New York and New Jersey’s submission on file proposes the federal government pay 85 percent of the project costs, for a tunnel where 9 out of 10 passengers are local transit riders. This is entirely unserious.”
The administration also said that they are looking forward to get the funding for the project, from the 1 trillion budget set for the infra structure that they might receive early next year. Trump in September too had met with the Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, to discuss the details of the project. Senator Schumer is a strong supporter of the project.
The Official further said that the states would still need to provide a considerable amount of funding, and as of now, both the states are far from ready to able to make a deal.
The Senator, Schumer, went on to praise the gesture that was shown through the joint announcement of New York and New Jersey and said that Cuomo and Christie had “done their part” perfectly.
“Now that New York and New Jersey have done their part, and reached a funding plan, it’s time for the president to commit to fully fund the vital Gateway tunnel project because it is so important to our regional and national economy,” Schumer said in one of his statements. “The ball—and the future of the Gateway tunnels—is in the president’s court now.”
The original funding plan that was brought forward by the states was for $11.1 billion only, after slashing the extra costs by letting go of the plans to rehabilitate an already existing train tunnel that was damaged during the Hurricane Sandy. The proposal to repair the damaged train tunnel would further add $1.6 billion to the total budget.