Cuomo, Trump Meet to Discuss Gateway Project

The proposed Gateway Project in New York City may be getting a makeover following a meeting on Wednesday between New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Donald Trump.

Cuomo met with Trump to seek federal funding for construction of new tunnels under the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey that are used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.

In a news conference following the meeting, Cuomo said Trump appears amendable to separating the tunnel component of Gateway from other proposed infrastructure improvements to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

The Trump administration has been loath to commit to providing a significant level of federal funding for the $30 billion Gateway project, calling it primarily a local project.

New York and New Jersey officials have in turn pointed to a commitment by the federal government to fund half of Gateway made by the Obama administration.

But the Trump administration has claimed there was no such agreement. It also has rejected an application from New York and New Jersey for a federal loan to pay for Gateway.

Some observers believe that Trump is using funding for Gateway as a bargaining chip to get other things from Congress, including funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Cuomo said the stalemate can be broken by “breaking the tunnel away from Gateway,” removing Amtrak’s representative from overseeing the Gateway Project Development Corporation, replacing Amtrak’s rep with a federal representative and immediately putting the project out to bid.

The latter would occur without completing an environmental impact study or having federal funding in place.

Amtrak has estimated that the cost of building the tunnel at $13 billion.

“I’m not signing the check on an Amtrak estimate. And the president’s not signing a check based on an Amtrak estimate. So we need real bids,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo described his meeting with Trump as positive and all good.

The New York Democrat has been a frequent Amtrak critic, particularly in 2017 when the passenger carrier launched a series of emergency repairs at New York’s Penn Station.

The Gateway Project dates to 2011 and calls for a new Portal Bridge and replacement of track in New Jersey.

Cuomo said building new tunnels should have a higher priority that those projects, saying the tunnels sustained severe damage from super storm Sandy in 2012.

“I’m focused on the tunnels, number one from a safety point of view, number two, if we lose one of those tunnels, lose use of the tunnel, it will have a devastating impact,” he said, noting that the failure of the current link would cut off New York and Boston from points south, and impact a fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product. “You’re talking about economic catastrophic circumstances if these tunnels fail.”

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