How Will the Proposed $20B New Hudson Tunnel Be Financed?

November 15, 2015 15:51, Last Updated: November 15, 2015 15:51

Dear Editor,

Regarding the creation of the Gateway Development Corporation, just how will they manage to finance the proposed $20 billion new Hudson Tunnel?

The original New Jersey Transit Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) tunnel began construction in 2009 at $8.7 billion with a completion date of 2018. In 2010, Governor Christie canceled the project when the estimated cost grew to $11 billion. He did not want to risk being responsible for potentially billions in cost overruns above and beyond any Full Funding Grant Agreement with the Federal Department of Transportation.

Amtrak announced “the son” of ARC in 2011 known as the Gateway Project. It would cost $14 billion and take 14 years to build. In 2015, the estimated cost grew to $20 billion with a revenue service date of 2030 based upon initiation of environmental work, along with preliminary design and engineering. It is anyone’s guess in the end how many billions above this initial estimate the final cost will be. Same goes for the actual revenue service date.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Fox, Senators Cory Booker, and Charles Schumer (contributing $10 billion), Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York (contributing $5 billion), and Chris Christie of New Jersey (contributing $5 billion) all fail to identify the specific source for their financial contributions to the project. There are no significant dollars programmed in the proposed new Federal Highway Trust Fund legislation pending in Washington for Gateway.

Cuomo has to pay back a federal loan which financed the majority of $3.9 billion cost for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge. He needs several hundred million more on top of the $400 million for a new light rail system from NYC LaGuardia Airport to the Queens No. 7 Willet’s Point Subway Station. Plus there is $8.3 billion for shortfalls in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) proposed $28 billion 2015–2019 Five-Year Capital Plan.

Now $5 billion more toward Gateway? Combined, all of the above would run Cuomo’s tab of unfunded transportation improvements to $16 billion!

The New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund is insolvent. New Jersey Transit, the MTA, and Amtrak, need billions more in coming years just to reach a state of good repair. This does not include potential New Starts expansion projects for billions more. The Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J. needs $10 billion for a new 42nd St. Manhattan Bus Terminal.

Washington, New York, and New Jersey all lack courage to increase their respective gasoline tax. This is necessary to grow revenues available to support transportation. All three remind me of the cartoon character Wimpy who famously said, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” When the bills become due, taxpayers will end up picking up the tab.

Sincerely,

Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y.

Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked in the transportation field for 31 years.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.