NEW YORK — New York state's budget director insists an agreement is in place to have the federal government foot half the bill with New York and New Jersey for a $13 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

Robert Mujica says in a letter Sunday to the deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration that the 50/50 deal was discussed at a meeting last August with President Donald Trump, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, both governors, and a congressional delegation from the region.

His letter comes after K. Jane Williams, the deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, said Friday there is no agreement.,

In a letter to New York and New Jersey officials Williams wrote that a recent funding proposal by the states for the first phase of the project, estimated at $11 billion, seeks a 50 percent federal investment that is "considerably higher than much existing precedent for past 'mega projects'" and would deplete the existing grant program.

The letter also criticized the states' reliance on a 50-50 funding agreement with the federal government dating back to the Obama administration.

"We consider it unhelpful to reference a non-existent 'agreement' rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where 9 out of 10 passengers are local transit riders," Williams wrote.

Mujica says the Gateway Tunnel is critical to the long-term vitality of the entire Northeast region.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)

 

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