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Is the Nation's 'Most Crucial' Infrastructure Project a Pawn in a Political Game?

Observers say the Trump Administration might be threatening to "kill the hostage" in a hardline negotiation tactic on the Gateway project to build a replacement rail tunnel under the Hudson River to connect New York and New Jersey.
January 3, 2018, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Port Authority Trans-Hudson
Leonard Zhukovsky

"The president officially scrapped his predecessor's proposal to have the federal government underwrite half the cost of a multi-billion-dollar Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station, the busiest transit hub in the U.S.," reports Will Bredderman.

"The administration released the news on the cusp of a holiday weekend in a letter from a top Federal Transit Administration official to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his New Jersey counterpart Chris Christie, who had agreed with the Obama administration to split the project's costs 50-50," adds Bredderman.

The timing of the news, from Friday before the New Year's holiday, means officials and the public were just becoming aware of the implications of the news. Previously in the week, however, Planetizen correspondent Irvin Dawid picked up on hints from the Trump Administration that they might scrap the funding plan.

Bredderman reports that sources "have previously suggested to Crain's that the president's handling of the project has political overtones, as its greatest champion has been Schumer, the most powerful Democrat in Washington." The essence of this thinking is that the Trump Administration could fold the Gateway project into a larger infrastructure package, expected for public release early this year, in the hopes of securing votes from Senator Schumer.

Patrick McGeehan also reports on the decision by the Trump Administration to nullify the financing plan for the project, finding some experts who don't believe the Gateway project is completely dead. John Porcari, the executive director of the Gateway Development Corporation, is quoted in the article saying planners are still "plowing full speed ahead" on the project.

For background on the project, and some explanation of why some are calling the Gateway project the most important infrastructure project in the nation, see an article from June 2017 by Jeff Davis, written for the Eno Center for Transportation. 

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Published on Friday, December 29, 2017 in Crain's New York Business
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