Who will pay for potential Gateway Tunnel cost overruns?

Dear Editor:

The Gateway Tunnel project is reminiscent of the ongoing New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Long Island Rail Road Eastside Access to Grand Central Terminal project.

In 2001, the initial estimated cost was $3.5 billion with a completion date of 2011. The original Full Funding Grant Agreement between the Federal Transit Administration and NYMTA was approved in December 2006. The $2.63 billion of FTA grant funding toward a $6.3 billion project cost remains unchanged (virtually all of which has already been spent) with the MTA as local sponsor having to cover the $5 billion and growing cost overruns. Under any FTA FFGA, the recipient of funding is legally responsible for any cost overruns. Is the Gateway Development Corporation, Amtrak, NJ Transit, Governors Murphy and Cuomo prepared to do the same for Gateway?

In 2015, the estimated cost for the full scope Gateway Tunnel grew by $3.9 billion, from $20 billion to $23.9 billion, In 2017, the new cost estimate grew another $5.2 billion to $29.1 billion. The estimated cost today is now $33 billion. Will this cost continue to grow over time to $40, $50 or even $60 billion? Will Gateway be completed by 2040 rather than the promised 2029 date?

Larry Penner

(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office)