New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica today issued the following letter to the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration regarding the multi-billion-dollar Gateway Tunnel project to connect New York and New Jersey.
The text of the letter is available below:
Dear Deputy Administrator Williams,
As you know, the Gateway Tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey is critical to the long-term vitality of the entire Northeast region and, as a result of significant damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, is now considered the nation's most urgent major infrastructure project. This project does not simply represent a local priority, but rather connects the entire Northeast Corridor and is a critical single point of failure for 10 percent of the GDP of the entire country.
The states of New York and New Jersey, in partnership with the Port Authority of NY and NJ, earlier this month announced details to fund 100 percent of the local share of the new Gateway Tunnel. Details of that funding commitment follow a publicly announced 2015 framework agreement in which the federal government agreed to fund 50 percent of the Gateway tunnel project, and the local parties agreed to fund 50 percent. This framework was developed in an effort to move this critical infrastructure project forward before time runs out for the existing, aging, damaged North River tunnel.
Further, the 50:50 framework was discussed at a meeting in the White House this past August with the President, Secretary Chao, both Governors, and the Senate and senior House delegation from the New York New Jersey region as a basis for keeping this project moving forward. The USDOT stepping away from the 50:50 framework now would represent stepping away from a previously agreed upon path and the entire basis for getting this critical national infrastructure project done.
The State of New York and State of New Jersey stepped up with major commitments earlier this month, together with commitments via the bi-state Port Authority, to pay for half of the new tunnel. The fact that these funding commitments would utilize Federal loan programs should in no way be misinterpreted as "Federal assistance" or "Federal dependency". Doing so would go against decades of precedent when it comes to funding infrastructure projects of this scale and importance. The people of the bi-state region are paying for the commitment and the very economy of the Northeast depends on it.
As an analogy, when a family takes out a mortgage to buy a house, it is the family who is responsible to pay that mortgage. The same applies here - with New York and New Jersey solely responsible to pay back the loan. When the family pays off the mortgage, no one thinks the bank has bought and paid for the home justbecause they loaned the funds. With Gateway, when the local funders pay off the federal loan, it is the local funders who have paid for their half of the tunnel, not the federal government.
We also want to clarify that our submission does include the rehabilitation of the existing tunnel and, as we stated, we intend to identify the $800 million commitment for that portion of the project in the future. As you know, however, the most urgent and pressing priority is to find a path forward to beginning work on the new tunnel.
We look forward to engaging with the Administration and the Federal Government in 2018 to move this critical project forward, and are heartened by your willingness to explore paths to enable it. We also look forward to hearing details of the Federal plan for reviving the nation's infrastructure, and hope that any national program with the ambition to improving our infrastructure must begin with Gateway.
Robert Mujica, New York State Budget Director