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Hudson Tunnel Project: Picking the Winners and Losers
David Van Slyke, Dean of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, is available to talk about the issues surrounding the New York Hudson Tunnel, an infrastructure project to build a new rail tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey. The Trump administration has made clear that they plan to block federal funding for the project.
“The President doesn’t prioritize projects in his federal policy statements, but then wants to have a role in accepting or rejecting projects,” says Van Slyke. “The President, in his opposition to Gateway, is actually undermining intergovernmental cooperation which is critical for local projects which have national implications to work effectively.”
“Objections to the cost of the Gateway project have less to do with the cost of this individual project and more to do with the fact that the President’s budget doesn’t allocate enough federal funding for important infrastructure projects. Transformational seems to now be equated with ‘NEW’ since replacing these tunnels would, in fact, be transformational,” says Van Slyke.
“The President is trying to rewrite how projects with national implications get financed even though none of the current objections were framed in the original infrastructure policy statements. Therefore, we again have a problem of signaling. If the President doesn’t want TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) financing used, then the Administration and Department of Transportation have to identify other reasonable mechanisms for underwriting the financing costs of these types of projects,” says Van Slyke.
“All in all, this latest dispute is predictable given the paucity of concrete guidance offered by this administration on infrastructure investment. It’s unfortunate that when we actually have states willing to work together, no small feat, that the federal government and the President’s administration begin picking winners and determining losers. If Gateway is a non-starter for the administration, be clear about what is needed for this project to move forward other than eliminating a federal financing component. If that’s the rub, then there’s not much there as many have suspected in the President’s infrastructure policy goals,” says Van Slyke.
In addition to serving as Dean of the Maxwell School, home to the #1 ranked public policy program, Van Slyke is also the Director and Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a co-editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and the Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation. He has provided expert guidance to the Office of Management and Budget, the Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the World Bank.