ALBANY - After sparring with the federal government over costs, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed Tuesday that the Obama administration and the Port Authority split the price tag of a new trans-Hudson River rail tunnel.
The governors sent a joint letter to President Barack Obama proposing a "funding framework" to push the commuter transit project forward. The key request is a federal grant to cover 50 percent of the cost. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey "will take responsibility for developing a funding plan for the other half," the governors wrote. The authority's funding plan wasn't detailed, but could include a "federal low-interest loan," Christie and Cuomo wrote.
It was the latest twist in the tunnel skirmish.
Last month, Cuomo said the federal government should pay the "lion's share" of the cost, estimated anywhere from $14 billion to $20 billion. He also, in August, had balked at committing New York to the project, contending it would be owned by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit and saying: "It's not my tunnel." The Obama administration criticized Cuomo for not attending a meeting with Christie and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to discuss the project.
The push for a new tunnel has picked up steam following delays in the existing one.
"The project is simply impossible without federal grant assistance," the governors said in the letter. "We are writing jointly in an attempt to move the stalled project forward by putting a funding proposal on the table that we believe is realistic, appropriate and fair: split the responsibility for the cost," Christie and Cuomo said.