ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be heading to Washington to press President Donald Trump for federal funding for a new rail tunnel below the Hudson River.
The Democrat is tentatively scheduled to head to the nation’s capital on Wednesday to meet with the Republican president and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Trump’s administration has clashed with officials in New York and New Jersey over a funding plan for the Gateway Tunnel Project. The existing tunnel is a century old and in need of extensive renovations. Experts say a new tunnel is essential to ensuring reliable rail travel throughout the entire northeast.
“I actually think if anything is going to convince the president, seeing is believing,” Cuomo said last month. “He actually has a construction background and I think if he sees the level of damage and he sees what we’re talking about, eroding steel, falling concrete, that he’ll see it in a different context — that it will strip away the politics and the rhetoric and the jockeying.”
A 2014 report by the Federal Railroad Administration estimated that the loss of rail service on the corridor for one day could cost nearly $100 million in impacts and productivity losses.
“Governor Cuomo is 100 percent right to highlight the urgent need to build a new Hudson River Tunnel, and its importance to the nation. We thank him and Governor Murphy for their unwavering commitment to the Gateway Program. This vital Northeast Corridor rail link is too important to wait for the current 107-year-old tunnel to become unusable,” Gateway Development Corporation Trustees Steven M. Cohen, Tony Coscia and Jerry Zaro said in a statement in October. “We urge the Administration to join us in accelerating the effort to replace the critical, century-old Portal Bridge and Hudson River Tunnel with modern, 21st century infrastructure of which America can be proud.”
New York and New Jersey have committed to pay for half the cost of building a new tunnel using federal loans, with New Jersey proposing to pay back its share with fare increases and New York proposing to allocate money annually from its state budget over 35 years. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has committed roughly $2 billion.
But Trump administration officials have previously rejected the 50-50 agreement the states made with the Obama administration that would have the federal government pay for the other half, calling it “nonexistent.”
In a statement sent to CBS2, Cuomo called the project “not a partisan issue but a practical government necessity.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)