Christie, Cuomo ask feds to fund 50% of new Hudson rail tunnel
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) have sent a joint letter to the White House asking for the federal government to fund half of a new Hudson River rail tunnel.
“We are writing jointly in an attempt to move the stalled project forward by putting a funding proposal on the table that we believe is realistic, appropriate and fair: split the responsibility for the cost," reads the letter. "The new tunnel is essential to the region, and this bipartisan proposal is designed to break through the logjam that has delayed its construction in the past."
Such a project has been estimated to cost $14 billion
The Congressional delegations from both states, led by Senators Robert Menendez (D) and Cory Booker (D) from New Jersey, are also "united in a manner we have rarely seen before," according to the letter.
“I’m thrilled. My senate colleagues and I have really been talking about this project for quite some time," said state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D), who toured the tunnel while Amtrak was working on the tunnel. "It’s an absolute priority for this state to get it done so I’m thrilled that the two governors are willing to work with the Administration to get this thing funded and get it done. Our economy in the State of New Jersey is so dependent on New York. We have $50 billion in income that comes out of that city every single year into New Jersey.”
Reaction to the letter was positive. "There is light at the beginning of the tunnel," Schumer told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He called the governors' funding proposal "fair and reasonable" and said he would work to secure the federal investment. "I've spoken to both Christie and Cuomo and told them we will go to bat but we've told them we need everyone cooperating."
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx hailed the governors' letter and said federal officials would "engage with local officials immediately" to refine cost estimates and the available of existing funds. "Today the governors of New York and New Jersey have taken a big step forward: They've come to the table," Foxx said.
The letter comes at the end of summer during which NJ Transit delays reached at least 60 minutes while Amtrak performed repairs to overhead wires resulting in single-tracking in the existing rail tunnel. Amtrak warned that delays will get worse if no new tunnel is built.Booker called a meeting at his office with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx at his office to discuss a new tunnel but Cuomo did not attend. In an interview, he expected the federal government to pick up "the lion's share" of the cost.
During the last Ask the Governor, Christie hinted at the some behind-the-scenes discussion about the tunnel. "There are conversations ongoing with the federal government, with our United States senators who have been involved, with New Jersey Transit, with Amtrak, and with the Port Authority and the state of New York," he said. "(New York Gov.) Andrew (Cuomo) and I have a very good relationship, as you can tell we have over the years and we both have priorities that are important to each others state and to the region."
Christie and Cuomo have both stated their support for a new tunnel and offered state funding, but also needed federal dollars to make the project a reality.