The Trump Administration dropped an announcement they hoped nobody would notice Saturday because it amounts to the president devastating America’s most critical infrastructure project by pulling its funding.
Trump’s Federal Transit Administration just tore-up a deal to build critical train improvements to modernize the connection between New York City and New Jersey, which is key Amtrak line connecting New England to the Capitol region.
The lone tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey is over 100-years-old, falling apart, and was set to be expanded in 2010 until the only Republican politician less popular than Trump, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, backed out of his state’s pledge to share the cost. Now, Christie’s buddy, the president who appears to be suffering from mental decline, just wrecked the crucial Gateway Tunnel project which took until 2016 to revive.
The president officially scrapped his predecessor’s proposal to have the federal government underwrite half the cost of a multi-billion-dollar Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station, the busiest transit hub in the U.S. The lone existing tunnel is rapidly deteriorating, threatening to sever Amtrak’s popular Northeast Corridor and to divert tens of thousands of New Jerseyans from their daily Manhattan commutes via New Jersey Transit.
Friday’s letter, in response to an updated proposal by the two states to fund their half of the plan with federal loans, declared the deal null and void. “Your letter also references a non-existent ’50/50′ agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” wrote FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. “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.”
Seemingly nobody told President Trump that trashing America’s most urgent and shovel-ready project might not be the best way to demonstrate his intent to spend billions rebuilding America’s infrastructure.
Now, residents of New York City, Trump’s own hometown and site of much of his family’s personal real estate holdings, will bear the brunt of a crass political maneuver right when his Administration is trying for the fourth time in 12 months to focus on infrastructure projects.
In June, Trump crashed his first attempt at “Infrastructure Week” with a series of racist tweets in favor of a Muslim Ban. Then in August, the President upped the ante by blowing up “Infrastructure Week” 2.0 to support his alt-right neo-Nazi friends after one of them murdered a protester in broad daylight on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.
By November, Trump’s White House shed much of its staff, and the survivors tried to start “Infrastructure Month” only to be derailed again when key members of his campaign pled guilty and/or were indicted in federal court.
Trump’s abrupt attack on the Gateway Tunnel project, along with the recent Republican tax scam bill that’s going to raise income taxes, will harm two states who pay more in federal income taxes than they take in.
Hard working commuters from New York and New Jersey aren’t the only people dreading the future without this key infrastructure project.
Even though both are solidly “Blue” states, New Jersey has five Republican Congressman, and nine House GOP Reps hail from New York.
With luck, voters in both states that have chosen Republicans to raise their taxes and snarl their traffic will finally wake up and vote to send their House GOP Representatives home in November.