Christie, Cuomo urged to seal deal on new Hudson rail tunnel
On the heels of several days of delays that snarled mass transit in New York and New Jersey last month, a Garden State lawmaker is urging the governors of both states to move quickly on a deal to construct a trans-Hudson rail tunnel to alleviate some commuter congestion.
At a Senate Legislative Oversight Committee hearing in Trenton on Aug. 10, Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner said his agency would push the federal government to pick up 80 percent of the tab for the planned Gateway trans-Hudson rail tunnel. Wednesday, New Jersey's Senate president urged NJ Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seal the deal quickly.
"If there's an 80-20 match and the 20 percent local match between the Port Authority and the two states, we need to move quickly and get this project moving," said Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford). "We have seen what happens when the trains shut down. You have chaos. You have gridlock."
At the hearing, Gardner said more than $30 billion remains in the federal Railroad Rehabilitation Infrastructure Financing program for low-interest loans. New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority got a $967.1 million loan from the program in May at a 2.38 percent interest rate.
"We are more than prepared to be pro-active to move this idea forward with a financing plan that gets the project done," Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) said in a press release statment. "Spreading out the Port Authority's cost up to 35 years would be beneficial because the agency has other critical infrastructure needs, starting with the reconstruction and repair of the Port Authority Bus Terminal to meet increased bus ridership demand over the next 30 years."
A meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 18 to discuss the Gateway project. Christie, Cuomo and U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are expected to sit down with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to discuss the issue.
"President Obama announced that Gateway is the top rail priority in the nation," Senate Legislative Oversight Committee Chairman Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn) said in a press release statement. "If Transportation Secretary Foxx puts an 80-20 split on the table when he meets with Governor Christie next week, there is no reason not to reach a quick agreement."
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