- The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will contribute an additional $44 million toward construction of a new $13 billion Hudson River tunnel, according to the New York Daily News. This is on top of the $1.9 billion the agency previously pledged to the project.
- The $44 million will pay for the $12.5 million relocation of a Long Island Rail Road emergency services building out of the way of future tracks in Hudson Yards, as well as for the staff and designers necessary to continue the planning process for the tunnel, which is part of the massive $24 billion Amtrak-led Gateway Program of Northeast Corridor modernization projects.
- The Port Authority said the extra money would help the project keep moving forward until the federal government decides what its level of funding will be. Project officials said that President Obama's Transportation Department committed to paying for half the construction costs, but the Trump administration has disputed the existence of any such arrangement.
The White House's position on tunnel financing is a reflection of President Donald Trump's official policy on how it would like to handle its share of state and local infrastructure projects. According to the president, states or other agencies looking to launch major infrastructure initiatives should come up with about 80% of the financing if they want to pursue a federal funding arrangement.
The Hudson River tunnel project, in addition to the Port Authority contribution, has commitments from New York and New Jersey that would account for half of the project's costs. If the federal government backs out on the alleged Obama-era promise, the Gateway Program Development Corporation (GPDC) could seek a private partner to help finance the rest. GPDC officials have previously stated they would be open to a public-private partnership (P3).
The president's $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan must still make its way through Congress, but if the White House succeeds in reducing the level of federal funding for infrastructure, the P3 path will inevitably be something states, local governments and regional planners will be forced to travel in order to fill the gap with private-sector investment. Other financing alternatives will also likely include hikes in state gas taxes and increases in driver registration fees and taxes, as well as higher tolls.
The Hudson River tunnel was damaged by saltwater intrusion when Superstorm Sandy rolled through the area in 2012, but it was not the only New York City metro tunnel left in need of major repair. In fact, according to The Jersey Journal, the Port Authority this month approved a $364 million rehab of the Holland Tunnel, which also connects New York and New Jersey via the Hudson River. The Port Authority is expecting an 84% reimbursement from the federal government for work on power cables, fire detection and voice communication systems, lighting, pump room equipment and concrete.