After many fits and starts, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have created a plan to come up with their share of funding for the Gateway Tunnel project. New Jersey plans to raise $1.9 billion by hiking rail fares by about 90 cents per cross-Hudson trip for New Jersey Transit train riders starting in 2020, with increases of $1.70 and $2.20 planned for 2028 and 2038, respectively.
NY said it would propose an appropriation in its annual executive budget for 35 years to pay debt service on a $1.75 billion fixed-interest loan to the Gateway Program Development Corporation (GDC), according to a December 13 letter from the state to the GDC and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The states' contributions will total half of the project costs, while the federal government will pay the other half, as decided under a framework agreement in 2015, the statement said. The corridor serves about 200,000 daily trips between New Jersey and NY and is considered the nation's most vulnerable major transportation link. 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. "New York State is stepping up to fund its share of the financial commitment as we rebuild our infrastructure all across the state".
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"It positions the project to immediately compete for federal Capital Investment Grant funds", said Christie. The transit agency will pay for its portion by implementing a per-passenger trip charge for all its rail riders.
While New York will contribute through its general fund, NJ Transit will a new commuter charge. "This is entirely unserious".
Gov. -elect Phil Murphy said his transition was not apprised of the details of the negotiations between New Jersey and NY. Christie said he was concerned that New Jersey taxpayers would have to shoulder the overruns.
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NJ Transit, the nation's third-largest provider of bus, rail and light rail, carries roughly 100,000 rail commuters per day from New Jersey to NY either directly or via connections to other carriers.
"What's so sad and inexcusable is that if Gov. Christie hadn't canceled the previous tunnel plan and diverted the funding, the tunnel would be almost complete by now", Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex County, said in a statement.
"The Gateway Tunnel is critical to the long term vitality of the entire Northeast region and one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country", Cuomo said. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, Murphy said the project was his top priority after taking office.
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