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Gateway Tunnel may proceed even with proposed Trump budget cuts

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A public-private partnership might save the trans-Hudson tunnel project

Courtesy of Amtrak

UPDATE: A previous version of this article stated, based on WNYC’s reporting that the project could move forward with a private-public partnership. A Port Authority Spokesperson has since clarified that only a part of the project could move forward with such a partnership and that the tunnel is still largely dependent on federal funds.

Despite initial fears that budget cuts by the Trump administration might impede work on the Gateway tunnel project, the group developing it is now saying it has an alternate plan. WNYC spoke with the leadership at the Gateway Development Corp., and learned that the non-profit group spearheading the project will likely get funding from a public-private partnership, if federal funds don’t come through.

Donald Trump’s budget proposal included a 17 percent decrease from the United States Department of Transportation’s budget, which would make it the agency’s lowest budget in 18 years.

Federal funding for projects like the Gateway tunnel are dependent on the government’s New Starts program. New York and New Jersey legislators expressed concerns that the budget cuts would likely destroy the New Starts program, which grants $2.3 billion in funds to transportation projects across the country each year, according to WNYC.

There may very well be another way to move forward though, the Gateway Development Corporation says. The organization is comprised of current and former employees of Amtrak, Port Authority, the federal government, and NJ Transit. A private-public partnership will however only fund part of the project—it will still largely be dependent on federal funding.

Set to be built at a cost of $24 billion (half of which was supposed to come from the Federal government), the project is supposed to replace the tunnels below the Hudson River connecting New Jersey and Manhattan, along with other infrastructural improvements.

While Trump has mentioned a $1 trillion infrastructural plan in the past, he has yet to offer any details on it. On that same note, the Trump administration also hasn’t confirmed that it will nix the New Starts program, so the Gateway project could very well still be a priority for them.