NYC Tunnel Work Likely to Start Soon Under Biden, NJ Governor Says
(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he is “highly optimistic” that President-elect Joe Biden will approve funding for a Hudson River rail tunnel that has languished in a Trump administration, and projected that construction could start in early 2021.
In a Bloomberg Television interview on Sunday, the first-term Democrat also said he expects the Biden administration to flood the U.S. with cash to combat the novel coronavirus and stimulate the economy.
Federal aid in all those areas is crucial to New Jersey, which over 48 hours reported more than 5,000 new virus cases, bolstering Murphy’s plans to announce new restrictions as soon as Monday. On Nov. 18, the state plans to issue $4.28 billion in debt -- 13% of the fiscal 2021 budget -- to deal with a revenue shortfall, an approach that last week contributed to the state’s second credit-rating downgrade since Murphy took office in 2018.
At the same time, the state faces a mass-transportation crisis, with access to New York City jobs imperiled by an increasingly unreliable, 110-year-old rail tunnel. Trump has blocked funding for an $11.6 billion second link.
“I’m highly optimistic that will get green-lighted -- President-elect Biden knows this project very well,” said Murphy, a retired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. senior director. “Literally it is shovel-ready. You could envision putting a shovel in the ground, first quarter of next year.”
On coronavirus, Murphy said he expects Biden to lead “a consistent national effort” that may include boosting stockpiles of personal-protective equipment and ventilators, increasing testing and “getting that vaccine over the goal line and then equitably and properly distributed.”
Murphy has hinted for days that he intends to reimpose some kind of restrictions, though they won’t be as drastic as the business shutdowns and other steps he took in March. Last week he strongly suggested that Thanksgiving meals on Nov. 26 should be limited to small groups of family.
“It’s hard for us to find a huge set of outbreaks in schools or restaurants or gyms,” the governor said. “It’s really overwhelmingly private settings,” where people aren’t exercising precautions as they had earlier.
“The big plea is to not let your hair down,” Murphy said. “That’s exactly what this virus wants us to do, including when you’re at your house with your own family.”
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