Northeast Corridor tunnel backers feel shorted by Trump plan

FILE - In this July 9, 2017 file photo, Amtrak workers continue ongoing infrastructure renewal work beneath Penn Station in New York. Proponents of a $13 billion project to build a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey seen as critical for the future of the nation's busiest rail corridor are panning President Donald Trump's infrastructure proposal. The budget released by the White House on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, envisions $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next 10 years; however, only $200 billion would be direct federal spending aimed at leveraging state and local dollars. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

NEWARK, N.J. — Proponents of a $13 billion project to build a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey seen as critical for the future of the nation's busiest rail corridor are panning President Donald Trump's infrastructure proposal.

The budget released by the White House on Monday envisions $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next 10 years; however, only $200 billion would be direct federal spending aimed at leveraging state and local dollars.

State and local governments would be able to use the federal money for up to 20 percent of their project's cost, which is vastly different from the model state and local officials supporting the tunnel project have relied upon.

Their estimates have been based on an agreement reached with President Barack Obama for the states and federal government to split the cost for the larger rail project called Gateway.

In a letter to New York and New Jersey officials in late December, the deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration called that agreement "non-existent."

Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Monday's budget proposal "would put unsustainable burdens on our local government and lead to Trump tolls all over the country," referring to the plan's proposal to sell some federally owned roads.

John Porcari, a former federal Department of Transportation official who is interim head of the Gateway Development Corp., the tunnel project's overseer, said more federal commitment is needed.

"The Gateway Program remains the most urgent infrastructure program in America and a project of national significance for which there is not a minute to lose," Porcari said. "In order for programs across the country like Gateway to be successful, we must substantially increase direct federal investment in infrastructure."

The existing tunnel is more than 100 years old and suffered saltwater damage during 2012's Superstorm Sandy. Amtrak, which owns the tunnel, has said one or both of the tubes — one inbound to Penn Station, one outbound — could fail in the next 10 to 15 years.

Transportation experts have estimated that taking one of the tubes out of service would reduce peak-period trains from 24 per hour to six, leading to crippling delays along the Northeast Corridor stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C.

Republican New Jersey Rep. Leonard Lance referenced the tunnel project's importance to the nation as well as the region.

"Any serious national infrastructure plan must include this link for $3 trillion in annual economic output and 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product," Lance said.

New Jersey and New York have committed a combined $5.5 billion, half of the estimated cost of constructing the new tunnel. The remainder of the first phase involves replacing a century-old swing bridge in northern New Jersey that occasionally gets stuck in an open position and other improvements.

New Jersey plans to pay for its share by raising fares on cross-Hudson River rail trips, while New York plans to finance its portion through an annual appropriation.

Must Read

Colbert to air live after Trump-Clinton...

Aug 10, 2016

Stephen Colbert, who capitalized on the political conventions with live broadcasts, will do the...

Q&A: Delta CEO on outage, efforts to 'win...

Aug 10, 2016

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian apologizes for canceled flights and to prevent future computer...

Prince Fielder emotional as he ends career after...

Aug 11, 2016

Prince Fielder says it will be tough not be able to play again after having to walk away from the...

Christie denies lying, but more info likely in...

Aug 11, 2016

The revelation that a former staffer of Gov. Chris Christie texted that she believed Christie lied...

Experts say white supremacists see Trump as 'last...

Aug 11, 2016

Legal and civil rights experts say Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign is...

Sign up now!

About Us

In The Headline sought to bring professionalism back into journalism, bringing you only the most exclusive and the most impactive news from all over the globe.

Contact us: sales[at]intheheadline.com