Trump Administration calls Gateway Project funding agreement “non-existent”

The Trump Administration called an Obama-era agreement for the federal government to help fund a $13 billion rail tunnel project between New York and New Jersey “non-existent” in a letter sent on Friday.

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A “50/50” funding agreement was reached between the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT),  New York, New Jersey and Amtrak to complete the “Gateway Project” under the Obama Administration. Plans call for tunnel repairs and the rebuilding of Portal Bridge in New Jersey.

In a letter to New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica, Jr., K. Jane Williams, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Authority, referred to the 50/50 agreement as “non-existent.”

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) called the letter “disheartening” and said it was “glaringly apparent” that the Trump administration had no interest in rebuilding infrastructure and putting Americans back to work.

Payne also said that President Donald Trump has “a long history of reneging on business deals,” and Payne expressed confidence that officials who led the USDOT would “set the record straight” about the funding agreement.

“This is not a partisan issue, and it should not be written off as merely a project of local concern,” Payne said. “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, have come together in good faith to demonstrate that the states are ready and willing to put up billions of dollars to make Gateway a reality. The assets Gateway will restore and enhance are Amtrak properties: the bridges, the tunnels, the rails, all of it. I will remind the administration that Congress created Amtrak to maintain the nation’s passenger railroad infrastructure and service. The Gateway Project will create thousands of jobs, pump money into the economy, and increase rail capacity along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.”

Williams wrote that it was “unhelpful to reference a non-existent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders.”