New Jersey-New York rail tunnel plan advances

 Commuters read and check their phones as they stand on a New Jersey Transit passenger train to New York. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Commuters read and check their phones as they stand on a New Jersey Transit passenger train to New York. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

An agreement between federal and New Jersey officials calls for the U.S. to pay 50 percent of the costs to build a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River.

When Gov. Chris Christie cancelled the ARC tunnel project in 2010, he said New Jersey couldn’t afford to pay overbudget costs.

Assembly Transportation Committee chairman John Wisniewski said Thursday the new arrangement will apply to cost overruns for the proposed Gateway tunnel project.

“My interpretation of that, my reading of that agreement, would be that 50 percent when it’s all said and done, not 50 percent of what’s projected to begin with,” said Wisniewski, D-Middlesex.

The Gateway project, part of a major initiative that could wind up costing more than $20 billion, is expected to be completed by 2025.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said that although Christie delayed expansion of rail service for several years,  work on the cancelled ARC project was not in vain.

“Being behind like this isn’t good, but some of the work that’s already been done, some of the money that was already spent, the good news is it’s not all wasted now because the entrance where the ARC is, is where the Gateway will go through,” Sweeney said.

A new development corporation will identify federal grant opportunities and pursue low-interest loans to move the tunnel project forward.

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