New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has blasted the Trump administration for failing to include money in its newly released 2020 federal budget for the Gateway Tunnel project. In fact, the record-setting $4.75 trillion budget would cut transportation department funding by $5.1 billion, or 19 percent, while also cutting many other programs including Medicare, Medicaid and student loans
The Gateway Tunnel project envisions new railroad tunnels to be built under the Hudson River to replace the two existing, severely deteriorated, single-track tubes. Commuter trains between New Jersey and New York and Amtrak trains on Northeast corridor routes presently carry an estimated 200,000 passengers on about 450 trains through the tunnels every day. Now owned by Amtrak, a federal operation, the tubes were originally built by the Pennsylvania Railroad and opened in 1910.
In his latest statement, Cuomo said, “Laughably, they claim that funding the Gateway project is the sole responsibility of local officials – even though Amtrak owns the tunnel. These ridiculous claims should not be taken seriously. What should be taken seriously, however, are the consequences if we don’t move forward on the project expeditiously.”
Cuomo thought he had a meeting of the minds with Trump when they had lunch at the White House on Nov. 28 and discussed the Gateway project. “It was all good. The president got it,” Cuomo said after the meeting, which included Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“I think it’s fair to say that the meeting was a positive meeting. I think it’s fair to say that the president was receptive to what we were talking about and the president said he wanted to take the next steps to find a way forward,” Cuomo had said at the time.
Current estimates place the cost of the new tunnels and associated infrastructure at $30 billion. Cuomo emphasized that the federal government previously had pledged to split the cost with New York and New Jersey. He classified Gateway as the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation.
“Inaction would be catastrophic not just for the region but for the entire national economy,” Cuomo now warns. “The Trump administration must stop playing political games and holding this funding hostage. If the federal government refuses to fund this project, then the president will have to answer to the travelers and businesses across the Northeast who rely on this critical transit corridor.”