NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The U.S. transportation secretary wants to meet with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss stalled plans for new Hudson River rail tunnels.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter Monday to the two governors urging them to meet with him in the next two weeks to put together a strategy for building new crossings.
Christie said he expects to meet with Foxx and Cuomo in the next few weeks. He talked about the issue in New Hampshire where he is campaigning for the Republican nomination for president.
Christie said he had spoken to Cuomo on Monday night and that the two were trying to coordinate their schedules.
“We’ll work it out,” he said.
Cuomo said in an email statement Tuesday that he hoped the federal government could help with funding.
“The tunnel is a crucially important project for the region, but also a very expensive one without a funding stream,” the New York governor said. “I’m hopeful the federal government is willing to step up to the plate….”
John J. Degnan, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, noted in a letter Tuesday to Foxx that estimates for Amtrak’s proposed high-speed rail corridor in the Northeast, which includes new tunnels, have hit $14 billion while the federal government has capped its commitment at $3 billion.
He said the authority would need to know going forward whether the federal government could provide adequate funding for new tunnels and would be willing to expedite an environmental review.
The letters came after a series of recent train delays for NJ TRANSIT riders.
Those delays continued Tuesday when an Amtrak train became disabled. NJ TRANSIT trains in and out of New York’s Penn Station were forced to use a single track.
“The communication was limited. In fact, I found out the problem with the train from Twitter, not from Amtrak staff aboard the train,” passenger Mellisa Murphy told 1010 WINS.
Murphy said they were stuck for about an hour, but had full power for most of that time.
“We had full power except for about five minutes; the lights went out and the emergency lighting came on and the air conditioning stopped,” she said. “Everyone was so calm. I think it’s because no one ever felt like our safety was an issue. They might have been frustrated or irritated like I was, but they were acting calm.”
Many commuters say new tunnels are needed.