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State plans to fund Gateway Tunnel with $1.75 billion loan

After being in the pipeline for more than half a decade, The Gateway Tunnel Program is finally moving forward now that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are going to secure a $1.75 billion loan to cover 50 percent of the project cost.

The two governors made the same commitment in 2015, with the Obama administration providing half of the cash needed to expand and renovate the Northeast Corridor rail line. However, the deal failed to push through as the Trump administration ordered the withdrawal of federal representatives from the project’s planning committee, Gateway Development Corp.

In addition, both state officials have argued on finances for years. Crains reports that on one occassion, Cuomo commented that the project is “not my tunnel” as it would primarily service New Jersey commuters.

Now, Cuomo and Christie have agreed to take out a $1.75 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) under its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program. It will be repaid over a 35-year period.

Should financing be granted for both states, New Jersey will recoup by adding 90 cents on NJ Transit trips traveling the Trans-Hudson Line. The surcharge will be imposed by 2020. Hikes are to be expected in the following years, with the charge pushed up to $1.70 in 2028 and $2.20 in 2038. New York will pay for its part of the loan using money from its state budget.

“… the federal government must fulfill its commitment to fund the other half and make this urget, long-overdue project a reality,” Cuomo said. An official response has not been issued by the federal government or by the DOT.

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