The US federal government will fund half of a planned $20 billion commuter rail tunnel linking New Jersey and New York under the Hudson River in an agreement announced on Thursday, November 11, by the states’ governors.
The broad agreement on financing is a step forward for a long-standing project that aims to alleviate congestion on one of the busiest commuter corridors in the United States.
The project still is in the planning stage. National rail operator Amtrak has said it expects construction to start in 2019-2021 with completion of the tunnel in 2030. The dates are contingent on financing, Amtrak said in August.
The agreement establishes the Gateway Development Corporation to oversee the project. The corporation will be run by the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, Amtrak and the US Department of Transportation.
US Senator Charles Schumer of New York has said the project could cost at least $20 billion although Amtrak has said a reliable cost forecast has not been developed yet because the project is still in the planning and design phase.
The new corporation will access low-cost federal loans to fund the states’ portion, the statement from Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey said.
Plans to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River have proved controversial. Just after taking office in 2010, Christie cancelled a Hudson River tunnel project called Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) after construction contracts had been awarded, claiming the project price (then forecast at $8.7 billion) was likely to increase significantly and that his state was on the hook for cost over-runs.
Christie’s decision to can the project and his cost over-run claims were the subject of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report ordered by the US Senate in 2011, for more information see NATJ’s June/July 2012 digital edition: