New York, New Jersey devise plan to fund Gateway Tunnel project

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie commit to funding their halves of Gateway Tunnel

This would follow guidelines originally set in 2015 which would have the federal government pay for 50 percent of the costs.

The existing Amtrak North River Tunnel, which opened to service in 1910 and is the only intercity passenger rail crossing into New York City from New Jersey, was severally damaged as a result of seawater inundation during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

NY and New Jersey announced Thursday how they will pay for their share of an estimated $13 billion project to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and other improvements, with New Jersey's outgoing governor outlining a plan that calls for progressively steeper fare hikes for train riders in his state during the next 20 years.

The tunnel is an essential part of the Northeast Corridor that connects NY and New Jersey and is the nation's most critical major infrastructure project, according to a joint press release issued by the governors' offices.

The state of New York has agreed to provide US$1.75bn and NJ Transit is to provide US$1.9bn; the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey had already committed US$1.9bn giving a combined total of US$5.55bn.

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Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie on Thursday committed to pay for about half of a vital new train tunnel under the Hudson River, putting pressure on the Trump administration to fund the rest.

"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, with the rehabilitation of the existing tunnel, this project will result in the crucial Northeast Corridor having four tracks between New Jersey and NY under the Hudson River, allowing for increased ridership in the future". The transit agency will pay for its portion by implementing a per-passenger trip charge for all its rail riders.

The Trump administration has not expressed whether it would honor or back away from the previous administration's agreement, though transit experts are anxious that the White House does not see eye-to-eye on the project's importance. 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. And, in September, Cuomo called a meeting between President Donald Trump and NY and New Jersey officials to discuss the program "productive" but "inconclusive".

"The commitments we make today mark a pivotal milestone in the construction of the Hudson River Tunnel Project, and builds on the work we began earlier this year with the early construction of the Portal North Bridge Project", Christie said.

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