NY, NJ kick in $3.7B for Hudson River tunnel
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have committed to contributing a total of $3.65 billion toward construction of a $12.9 billion Hudson River rail tunnel between the two states, according to Reuters.
- New York will finance its $1.75 billion share through bond sales, and New Jersey will come up with its part by increasing NJ Transit fees for passengers crossing the Hudson. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will provide an additional $1.9 billion.
- The federal government with pay the balance, according to a 2015 agreement between the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the agency in charge of tunnel construction, the Gateway Program Development Corporation (GDC).
GDC is overseeing implementation of the $24 billion Gateway Program, an assortment of rail projects intended to relieve congestion along the Northeast Corridor and replace crumbling infrastructure, the Hudson River tunnel included. The under-river rail system has been in operation since 1910, and, in 2013, seawater from hurricane Superstorm Sandy's storm surge flooded it and damaged rail equipment. The residue still continues to corrode mechanisms inside the tunnel, and rail officials are hoping to complete the new structure before the old one breaks down.
Funding for the Gateway Program is far from settled, however, and GDC officials have expressed interest in perhaps financing some of it through public-private partnerships (P3s). This summer, GDC hired Francis Sacr, who used to work for French bank Societe Generale's Americas infrastructure financing division and was an adviser for the $4 billion LaGuardia airport Central Terminal B project. Sacr will serve as the interim chief financial officer for GDC.
One Gateway project that has arranged financing and started construction is the $1.5 billion Portal North Bridge in New Jersey. Crews will replace the existing 110-year-old swing bridge with a two-track rail bridge that will allow a higher volume of faster traffic. The current, aging bridge is the frequent source of technical problems and the resulting logjams. It is unclear when the Portal South Bridge project, which includes construction of a similar two-track span, will secure funding and start construction.
Earlier this year, USDOT withdrew from its position on the GDC board to remove the appearance of impropriety as the federal agency plays a role in many other infrastructure projects around the country.
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