In the back rooms and hallways of Congress, they’re putting together the giant 2,000-page funding bill that will take us to the end of the federal fiscal year in October. Hidden deep within the bill could be one of the largest earmarks of all time: a $900 million allocation for the Gateway Project – a set of nine different rail upgrades for a tunnel between New York and New Jersey.
This is Chuck Schumer’s top priority, but President Trump has threatened to veto the bill if funding for Gateway is included. I’ve fought this boondoggle since September of 2017, when I tried to strip the money out of the House transportation funding bill, an effort that got overwhelming support from House Republicans. Right now, as negotiations proceed, the White House and House conservatives are pushing back against this pork, with liberal Republicans and Northeast Democrats on the other side. Here are some facts about why it’s so important to kill the Gateway Giveaway:
- Gateway is the largest federal rail infrastructure boondoggle ever, eclipsing the federal commitments for both California High Speed Rail and the Big Dig.
- New York City is the most expensive rail infrastructure construction environment in the world. Subway construction in NYC can cost as much as seven times as construction in other comparable cities.
- The initial estimate for Gateway was $13.5 billion in 2011. It is now at $29.5 billion, before any construction has begun.
- For this “vital” project, the states have put up zero percent of the money for the Hudson Tunnel (the biggest component of the project) and five percent of the money for the Portal North Bridge.
- Nine out of 10 riders on Gateway will be local transit riders, but the federal government will be paying for the infrastructure.
- Federal funding for transit projects comes in part from an account called “New Starts.” Gateway’s Hudson Tunnel would be the largest New Start project ever, costing over $600 million per year, more than twice as large as the second biggest project in the history of the program.
- Governor Christie cancelled funding for a tunnel intended to do the same thing, taking $3 billion for the tunnel and using it to backfill the New Jersey Budget so he wouldn’t have to raise taxes prior to reelection. Now he’s demanding federal taxpayers pony up.
Ultimately the policy case against this project is unimpeachable — the facts just don’t support shelling out $30 billion in federal funds for something the states themselves have refused to pay for and continue to refuse to pay for. Chuck Schumer’s tunnel just isn’t worth it, and President Trump is absolutely right to fight him on it.
U.S. Rep. Ted Budd represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.