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US £9.38bn Hudson Tunnel scheme at risk

Hudson River Tunnel

A US $12.7bn (£9.38bn) rail tunnel project is at risk because a key administrative deadline may be missed, US news reports have claimed.

The states of New York and New Jersey, which the proposed Hudson Tunnel rail tunnel would cross, must have general safety programmes signed off by Congress by 15 April 2019 or risk losing government finance for the rail tunnel, USA Today has reported.

In 2015 the President Obama-led US government agreed to a 50/50 funding arrangement for the £9.38bn Hudson Tunnel project, with government paying for half and local parties, the states of New York and New Jersey along with the Port Authority of NY and NJ, paying the other half. The states and the Port Authority finalised their arrangements in December.

However the Trump administration has recently suggested it may not fund its half, adding another layer of risk to the project.

The Hudson Tunnel is part of the Gateway Program, a rail investment scheme which aims to increase capacity in the Northeast Corridor area of the US covering eight eastern states and Washington D.C. 

The current 106-year-old tunnel was damaged in severe storms in 2012. Over the next decade it will most likely need to be shut for repairs, drastically reducing services and threatening the economy of the area if the replacement tunnel has not been constructed.

New York State budget director Robert Mujica said the Gateway Tunnel scheme is “the nation’s most urgent major infrastructure project” in a recent letter to Federal Transit Administration deputy administrator K. Jane Williams.

“The USDOT [US Department of Transportation] stepping away from the 50:50 framework now would represent stepping away from a previously agreed upon path and the entire basis for getting this critical national infrastructure project done,” he wrote.

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Transportation told USA Today: “We remain confident that the State Safety Oversight program will be recognized as fully compliant well before the April 15, 2019, certification deadline.”

A spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Transportation did not confirm to USA Today whether the state would meet the 15 April 2019 deadline.

The Gateway Program has been contacted for comment.

 

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