President Trump just saved all of us $13 billion. That’s right… he nixed a rail tunnel project for New York and New Jersey that Obama set up for the progressive states. Trump put a stop to what he called a non-existent deal. It was first proposed in 2015 under Barack Obama. In this liberal plan, the federal government would have to cough up half of the cost to fix a dilapidated Amtrak tunnel between New Jersey to New York City. Then we’d have to repair damage to a dual-tunnel conduit and reconstruct the New Jersey railroad network’s aging Portal Bridge. That’s peachy for New York and New Jersey, but we can’t afford it.
Amtrak is warning that the tunnel is damaged and could collapse within 10 to 15 years. Evidently, the costs were to be split three ways between New York, New Jersey and the federal government. There is just one small glitch… the Trump White House is saying the deal was now “non-existent.” The reason that was given was that the states recently requested that their portions be covered by loans from the federal government, leaving the federal government holding the feed bag for the entire project. The Trump White House is calling it “a local project,” according to Fox News. Well, that’s what it is.
Why should taxpayers in South Dakota or South Carolina have to chip in for a rail tunnel for Jersey commuters who work in New York? Pay for the damn project out of the fare box or forget it. https://t.co/KkUWq4iwzI
— Scott St. Clair (@PiperScott1949) December 31, 2017
One person on social media noted, “Why should taxpayers in South Dakota or South Carolina have to chip in for a rail tunnel for Jersey commuters who work in New York?” That’s an excellent question. We are not a socialist state just yet. K. Jane Williams, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, broke the news to New York and New Jersey in a letter Friday. I can’t imagine they were thrilled with the news. “Your letter also references a non-existent ’50/50′ agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” Williams wrote. Blunt and to the point. Good. “We consider it 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.”
And it’s entirely in doubt if this project would even be included in President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure deal. It’s scheduled to be unveiled sometime in January. The Gateway project, as the tunnel revitalization plan is called, is important. It’s just that it is the responsibility of those states and not the entire country to pay for it. Amtrak is a failing entity that we just keep dumping money into. That needs to stop. It should pay for itself and make a profit or not exist.
Gateway Development Corp., the project overseer composed of representatives of New York, New Jersey and Amtrak, dismissed Williams’ letter as “posturing,” adding in a statement Friday that “we are confident that the Trump Administration will engage with us as the President turns to infrastructure in 2018.” I wouldn’t be so sure about that guys. Proponents view Gateway as crucial for revitalizing rail service in the New York City metro area, where multiple lines, including Amtrak, carry tens of thousands of commuters into the city each day in one of the nation’s key economic regions. Still not our problem.
They also note that having states borrow from the federal government to finance infrastructure projects is not unprecedented. Some allege that the Trump administration’s action is simply a political maneuver to put pressure on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, a key supporter of the plan. Yes, but it’s a financial two-step. First they wanted the federal government to cover half, now with loans, they’d be covering virtually all of it. That’s so very progressive and dumb.
New York business leaders have been adamant about the project’s importance on account of the region’s economy, which provides a large chunk of the US’ GDP and sends hundreds of billions of tax dollars to the federal government every year. A “senior [Trump] administration official” clarified that the project’s importance was not in dispute. The administration mostly objected to the federal government being relied upon to supply funds for New York and New Jersey’s shares of the costs. The official noted that for other projects underway in Hawaii and Maryland, federal loans compose only a fraction of the capital investment. Let them pay for their own repairs like the rest of us do. It’s just that simple.
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