$540M in potential Gateway funding draws praise from Murphy, Bracken

The Gateway Tunnel project would receive $540 million in federal funds under the latest government spending bill, according to multiple published reports.

The Gateway Development Corp. projects include a new Hudson River rail tunnel and redevelopment of the Portal Bridge and at Hudson Yards. Cost estimates range as high as $30 billion for the project.

Initial hopes were that the federal government would pick up some 50 to 80 percent of the tab. But President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his opposition to funding the project, going so far as to demand at times that no money be included for it in spending bills, according to reports. Some versions of the spending bill had included as much as $900 million for the project.

Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement praising the inclusion of even the lesser amount.

“I am pleased to see that the federal omnibus spending bill contains hundreds of millions of dollars in funding that can be used for the Portal Bridge and the Gateway tunnel,” the governor said. “As I have said repeatedly, this essential project is not just a matter of state or regional importance, but a national priority. It is vital to our economic security, will generate billions in economic development and will bring thousands of good-paying jobs to the region.”

New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken also was pleased.

“It is very good news for New Jersey that the federal omnibus spending bill includes funding that can be utilized for the Portal Bridge and the Gateway tunnel,” he said in a statement Thursday. “Although the funds do not fully cover the costs of these projects, it is a good start, with future funding seemingly available.”

The latest spending bill does not specifically mention Gateway, according to NJ Advance Media, which reported that the project would receive money from various federal sources, and also be eligible to apply for a portion of nearly $3 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation grants.

“These projects do more than connect New Jersey to New York City,” Bracken said. “They connect New Jersey to future economic vitality. … Funding these projects is a wise investment that will see ample return in the form of economic growth and new jobs for New Jersey.”

Murphy applauded the state’s representatives in Washington, D.C., for its assistance on the bill.

“I thank the bipartisan delegation from New Jersey and New  York that fought for this funding,” he said. “In particular, Sen. (Robert) Menendez, Sen. (Cory) Booker, Congressman (Rodney) Frelinghuysen and Senate Majority Leader (Chuck) Schumer.

“While we still have a long road to travel, I look forward to this bill’s passage and to continuing to work with our partners at Gateway Development Corp. to bring this project to life for the benefit of our region’s commuters and the entire nation.”