Thursday, January 4, 2018


Remember that agreement between the federal government and the states of New York and New Jersey to split the cost of repairs to the Amtrak tunnel under the Hudson River and build a new rail bridge over the Hackensack River?  Well, now you can forget it.
Not only has Donald Trump decided that the agreement to share the cost between the two states and the federal government for the massive project - totalling $13 billion - isn't in force anymore, but his appointees in the Federal Transit Administration have declared that there never was any such agreement.  Or so New York and New Jersey found out when they requested the $6.5 billion that the feds promised.
"Your letter also references a non-existent '50/50' agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement," Federal Transit Administration deputy administrator K. Jane Williams wrote in response to the request last week.  "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."
In other words, this mostly helps locals in states that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and also elected Democratic governors and senators, so they can all go to hell - where, apparently, Martin O'Malley will be there to serenade them with his guitar.
Gateway Development Corporation, the group overssing this massive project, dismissed Williams' letter as posturing and added that GDC is "are confident that the Trump Administration will engage with us as the President turns to infrastructure in 2018."
Yeah, well, let me throw in a few things to undermine GDC's confidence.  Not only do Republicans want to punish Democratic states for opposing Trump, they don't want to spend any money anywhere on transit projects because there's no profit in it.  You would assume, of course, that they only want to spend money on highways, like a new interstate between Raleigh, North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia, to be numbered Interstate 87 (yeah, a mainly east-west route using an odd number already in use in New York State, why not?).  Most congressional Republicans don't even want to spend money on that, since their precious tax cut made all of that even less affordable than it was before.  Besides, Trump canceled this railway deal with New York and New Jersey - the two states where he got his start as a real estate developer - for a more cynical reason - Barack Obama brokered it.  And by declaring it "non-existent," Trump is essentially saying that there was no such agreement as this ailwaydeal, there was . . . no such President as Barack Obama. 
It was just a dream . . . all . . . a dream.  Sort of like the hope of having quality passenger rail in America. >:-(
By the way, here's a rendering of the new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey, which would be built for trains heading into Manhattan.       
And here's the reality of the current Portal Bridge, built when Roosevelt was President . . . Theodore Roosevelt.
As for the outline of Trump's infrastructure "plan" for 2018 . . . I'll get to that later. 

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