New Jersey and NY Lawmakers Ask Feds for ‘Full and Fair Consideration’ to Hudson River Tunnel Financial Plan

December 19, 2018---North Bergen--Governor Andrew M. Cuomo tours the North River Rail Tunnel that connects New Jersey and New York Wednesday night December 19, 2018. The North River Tunnels are a pair of tunnels that carry Amtrak and New Jersey Transit rail lines under the Hudson River between Weehawken, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, New York City. As of March 2018, up to $541 million for the Gateway Project, a program to build two additional rail tunnels under the Hudson River, was provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

(The Center Square) – Democratic lawmakers from New Jersey and New York want the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to put a new Hudson River railroad tunnel on the express track.

The lawmakers want FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez to give the $12.3 billion tunnel project’s financial plan “full and fair consideration.”

The current 110-year-old tunnel on the Northeast Corridor has two tubes, each with a single track. It extends from North Bergen, New Jersey, to Penn Station in New York City and carries Amtrak and NJ Transit trains.

“This tunnel is a critical artery for the Northeast Corridor, which generates 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Fernandez. “If the tunnel were to shut down for any reason, it would cost our economy $100 million every day in lost output and disrupt travel for 200,000 daily passengers.

“The current tunnel is part of America’s rapidly decaying infrastructure that needs to be brought into the 21st century,” they added. “Without a new tunnel, rail travel will be critically impacted along the Northeast Corridor and economic disruptions will reverberate across the entire nation.”

Major construction on the new tunnel is expected to start in August 2023. Proponents of the tunnel have blamed politics for unnecessary delays.

U.S. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Josh Gottheimer, Tom Malinowski, Frank Pallone Jr., Bill Pascrell Jr., Donald M. Payne Jr., Mikie Sherrill and Albio Sires, all D-New Jersey, signed the letter to Fernandez. U.S. Reps. Mondaire Jones, Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn B. Maloney and Gregory W. Meeks, all D-New York, also signed the letter.

A spokesperson for Payne defended federal spending on the project given the national debt, which stands at more than $28 trillion. It is closer to $123 trillion when including unfunded liabilities.

“Economists used to think deficits were horrible, but then realized that they weren’t all bad as long as economic growth increases,” Patrick Wright, Payne’s communications director, said in an email to The Center Square. “Besides, investments in infrastructure give economies a tremendous boost. Every $1 spent on infrastructure returns at least $5 to the local and national economy.”

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The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. A taxpayer sensibility distinguishes our work from other coverage of state and local issues.