Gateway tunnel's fate under Trump has been clear for months
President Donald Trump asked Republican congressional leaders to block federal funding for the Gateway rail tunnel from New Jersey into Manhattan, The Washington Post reported late last week.
But it's been clear for months that the Trump administration did not consider the project among its top infrastructure priorities.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao confirmed that Tuesday in a tense exchange with lawmakers from New York and New Jersey in a hearing in the House of Representatives.
"The president is concerned about the viability of this project and the fact that New York and New Jersey have no skin in the game," she testified.
Tens of thousands of Amtrak and NJ Transit commuters each day rely on a century-old tunnel under the Hudson River that was heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Its failure could have catastrophic consequences for the region's economy.
Yet the Trump administration is insisting that the two states take on a greater share of the project's cost, rejecting a financing framework developed under his predecessor.
Last May, the administration's budget zeroed out funding for the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program, through which New Jersey and New York had sought funding to cover half of the tunnel's estimated $12.7 billion cost.
In July, the U.S. Department of Transportation withdrew from the Gateway Development Corporation's board of directors. The organization is tasked with building a series of rail projects between Newark and New York's Penn Station, including the tunnel and a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River.
In December, the Federal Transit Administration backed away from a commitment made during the Obama administration for the agency to share the cost of building the tunnel with New York and New Jersey.
"There is no agreement," wrote Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams.
Williams called the tunnel "a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders."
In response, New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the chairman of the House Appropriations committee, called Gateway "a national infrastructure priority" that needed the support of the Department of Transportation.
But in February, the Federal Transit Administration downgraded the project's rating for federal assistance, assigning it "medium-low" priority.
Also in February, the Trump administration laid out its 10-year, $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. The plan only commits $200 billion in direct federal spending, leaving state and local governments to provide the bulk of the funding.
The infrastructure plan did not mention Gateway.