Cuomo and Christie say NY and NJ will pay for half of $20 billion tunnel

The century-old tunnel has deteriorated over the years.

New York and New Jersey Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie wrote to President Barack Obama yesterday saying they would pick up half the tab of a new $20 billion Hudson River tunnel if the feds paid the other half.

The century-old tunnel currently in use, built in 1910, had deteriorated before Superstorm Sandy devastated it. Delays have been inflicting pain on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit riders.

“We know we need the tunnel,” said Cuomo in New York City, following a letter sent by the two governors to Obama. “The question has been for years, how do we pay for it.”

Cuomo and Christie proposed splitting the cost of the $20 billion tunnel with the federal government, which is in charge of Amtrak. The Port Authority, run by both states, would take the lead for financing it, such as with federal loans and “local funding sources,” according to the letter.

“Twenty billion dollars is a staggering cost for the state,” Cuomo said, noting that the Tappan Zee Bridge and LaGuardia Airport projects will each cost $4 billion.

He said conversations with the federal government had been heated.

“They were not stepping up. We had some very provocative conversations,” Cuomo said.

U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx was positive about the letter, and said they would work toward an equitable split between the states and the federal government.

“The Governors of New York and New Jersey have taken a big step forward,” he said in a statement. “They’ve come to the table.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer warned in August that a tunnel shutdown could cause a national recession, and proposed a development corporation to finance it with state, federal and private dollars.

“Finally, there is light at the beginning of the tunnel,” he quipped. “It is significant and welcome progress that New York and New Jersey have moved away from their position that there should be no state or local financing and have moved to 50%.”

Amtrak said they applauded Cuomo and Christie’s proposal, and that the project was critical.

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