Already years behind what transportation officials hoped for, “the Gateway Project” as it is called, seemed to be back on track last year when the departments of transportation for both New Jersey and New York agreed to split their share of the $13 billion price tag. Under President Barack Obama, the federal government agreed to pay half the total cost as long as the state paid for the other half.
The project seemed to be full steam ahead after a series of public hearings cleared the path for it, and set a route that would go from New York City under the Hudson River, Hoboken and Weehawken and the Palisades to connect with the rail facility in Secaucus.
But a letter issued to both states from Federal Transit Administration deputy administrator K. Jane Williams on Friday said no agreement between the states appeared to exist.;
“We consider it unhelpful to reference a non-existent 'agreement' rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders,” the letter said.
The tunnel proposed would be constructed in order to allow both states to do major repairs on the exiting tunnel – which saw significant damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Gov. Chris Christie killed a similar project called “The ARC Project” just after he took office in 2009, causing an extensive delay in expanding service to and from New York Penn Station.
It is unclear if the letter guts the current project or merely requires local officials to renegotiate the Hudson Tunnel project with federal officials.
Some local officials speculate that there may be a political motive behind the latest move, in which the GOP administration may be seeking to steer federal money way from heavily Democratic states.