Menendez: Trump’s budget ‘irresponsible, short-sighted’ for defunding rail tunnel
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump's proposed $1.15 trillion budget could threaten the proposed new rail tunnel under the Hudson River.
The budget would end federal funding to the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Program called New Starts. Only projects that have already been fully funded would continue to be funding.
The budget would also end federal support for Amtrak's long distance lines that have lost money allowing the funds to shift to better manage the Northeast Corridor and other state supported services.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., called the proposal "irresponsible, short-sighted, and demonstrates a complete failure of leadership." He said without funding for the New Start Program to complete the Gateway project there would be "a catastrophic ripple effect that will cause irreparable harm to our regional and national economies."
Without a new rail tunnel, Menendez said the Northeast Corridor would essentially be shutdown without the new tunnel.
Menendez spokesman Steven Sandberg explained that the Gateway project has been approved and is in the New Starts "pipeline," but the funding has not yet been contracted out. The federal government had agreed to pick up half of the cost of the $20 billion project. Amtrak was to add another $35 million to expedite environmental reviews and the permit process.
Funding for New Starts and Amtrak programs would be shifted to states.
Gov. Chris Christie in a statement said he has "worked hard to develop a project which will ease commuting to New York City without all the practical and fiscal shortcomings of the ARC tunnel project. Gateway tunnel is that project. New Jersey and New York are committed to funding their fair share. He will do all he can to fight any federal funding cut to this project of regional and national importance."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for rejection of the budget and called it "senseless" to cut funding to the New Start.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., criticized Trump's proposed budget, tweeting that the president "promised to invest in American infrastructure, but he proposes devastating cuts to maintaining our roads, railways, bridges, & ports."
U.S. Rep Leonard Lance, R-N.J. 7th District, said Trump's budget "acknowledges that we tax and spend too much in this country and we need a serious plan to tackle our national deficit and $20 trillion in national debt." But he also said he doesn't agree with each budget line. He didn't offer specifics to what he doesn't like.
The Gateway Project would add a second rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York. The existing North River Tunnel was built in 1910 and is nearing the end of its lifespan. Sustained damage from seawater that remains embedded in bench walls, steel, track, signaling and electrical components that causes ongoing damage which could lead to the failure of the existing tunnel which would lead to he complete shutdown of the Northeast Corridor between Washington D.C. and Boston.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.