WASHINGTON — Federal financial help for victims of Hurricane Harvey will not cost New Jersey the Gateway Tunnel project.

North River rail tunnel
North River rail tunnel (Amtrak)

An amendment proposed by Congressman Ted Budd, R-North Carolina, as part of the nearly $8 billion Harvey relief bill would have eliminated funding for the new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. It was defeated by a vote of 260-159 on Wednesday night.

All members of the New Jersey congressional delegation voted against the amendment.

NorthJersey.com reported that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, included $900 million in the 2018 Department of Transportation budget for the project to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. However, because of a ban on earmarking funds for specific projects, the Republican distributed the money in several different places in the budget.

Budd took issue and proposed taking $474 million from the New Starts program that was being used for Gateway, and allowing other states to apply for the funds.

"The provision I’m trying to get rid of is a $900 million earmark, about 300 times the size of the average earmark before they were banned. New Jersey cancelled a similar project in 2010 because it would have cost too much and this project costs $4 billion more. This isn’t a trivial amount of money. North Carolina and the other 48 states should not have to foot the bill for this hall of fame earmark," Budd said in a statement.

The Gateway project also replaces the 106-year-old Portal Bridge in the Meadowlands.

Reuters reported that President Donald Trump was scheduled to meet with political leaders from New York and New Jersey, including Gov. Chris Christie, today at the White House to discuss the Gateway Project.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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