NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy governor and his state’s Congressional delegation took a high-profile tour of the deteriorating Hudson River rail tunnel.
But now that the cameras have stopped rolling what are they dong to secure federal support for the critically needed replacement tunnel, which is estimated to cost $13 billion?
CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer demanded answers on Wednesday.
Was it a publicity stunt or a call to action?
Important questions need to be answered by Gov. Murphy and lawmakers after they grabbed headlines by touring the badly damaged North River Rail Tunnel that desperately needs to be replaced.
When asked what real-world real world steps he will take to make sure that the construction starts and starts soon, Gov. Murphy said, “The biggest thing we can do is the Democrats retaking the House.”
Murphy was apparently not anxious to answer that question. He cut off his response to wish Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin a happy birthday.
But CBS2’s Kramer persisted.
“So, governor, will you go to Washington? Will you meet with the president? Will you meet with the transportation secretary? Will you do a video? Will you coordinate with (New York) Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo?” Kramer asked.
“I’ve met with the president and the transportation secretary and we’re likely to do that again,” Murphy said.
Cuomo made a video of the decaying, 100-year-old tunnel damaged by Superstorm Sandy that connects New York and New Jersey and sent it to President Donald Trump and then met with him.
“Do you feel frustrated? What do you want to say to him?” Kramer asked, referring to the president.
“I’ll say to him privately what I have said publicly. The logic is overwhelming. It impacts 20 percent of the economy of the United States,” Murphy said.
The governor then fled, but Sen. Robert Menendez told Kramer he has a multi-part strategy to fund the so-called “Gateway Project,” including some fiscal sleight of hand, putting money in the budget that isn’t officially earmarked for the tunnel but would be spent on it.
“Partly, it will be what we did last year, which is to get half a billion dollars in the appropriations process notwithstanding the president’s opposition,” Menendez said.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has been doing that for years.
Last year alone Schumer got the funding up to $1.2 billion. He intends to do it again this year.
“Every day of delay increases the cost of the project and the risk that they will fail and cause transit Armageddon that will crush our economy,” Schumer said in a statement.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called on President Trump to green-light the Gateway Project.
“He ran on building infrastructure and we’ve not seen it, so start here,” Gillibrand said.
Sen. Menendez said he also intends to get President Trump’s friends in the real estate industry to lobby him, and there are some other things that can be added to the appropriations bill.