Elected officials from New York and New Jersey pitched to President Trump the importance of advancing a long-stalled dual-track rail tunnel under the Hudson River.
The White House meeting Thursday featuring New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie along with congressional leaders from both states outlined the regional importance of providing federal support for the $13 billion tunnel. The overall Gateway project, which is now estimated to cost around $30 billion, also includes rehabbing an existing 107-year old tunnel that links New Jersey to Manhattan’s Penn Station. A funding agreement spearheaded in 2015 under the Obama administration has been in limbo since Trump’s proposed budget stripped out key federal funding sources for the project.
“The leaders from New York and New Jersey reiterated that construction of new passenger rail tunnels under the Hudson is not only urgent, but critical for the entire northeast region and long overdue,” said Cuomo in a statement.
Trump’s 2018 fiscal year budget plan outlined in April would end a $2.3 billion per year New Starts program that was slated to finance half of the Gateway project. New York and New Jersey have agreed to split the remaining costs with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey tapped to lead financing efforts.
The Port Authority has estimated a $100 million cost to the nation in transportation-related economic and productivity losses each day the tunnels used by 200,000 commuters daily are forced to shut down. The tunnels were forced to close for five days in late 2012 after suffering severe seawater damage from Hurricane Sandy.
“This Administration has indicated that infrastructure investment will be a priority and I am hopeful that today’s meeting and information will persuade President Trump to consider Gateway to be a national priority,” U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, D-N.J., said in a statement. “I will continue to work in a bipartisan capacity to build support for the Gateway Tunnel project on Capitol Hill and with the Trump Administration.”
Cuomo emphasized during the meeting the importance of building the Gateway project through a design-build strategy used for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland counties. The Democratic governor said Trump agreed that the Tappan Zee Bridge design-build initiative “was a success."
Gateway Program trustees issued a request for information from potential private partners last month that are due on Sept. 15. Gateway interim director John Porcari said during a June meeting that a public-private partnership financing may be an attractive route for the project because of uncertainty on federal support under President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure renewal proposal.