President Told Reporters Money Is Set Aside For Tunnel Overhaul, But Whether It Will Be Green-Lighted Remains Unknown


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is President Donald Trump softening his stance on the Gateway Project?

New comments have raised hopes that the tunnel could finally get done, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Thursday.

It has been the rail line at the heart of the Northeast’s economy. But the tunnel that connects New York and New Jersey is 100 years old, was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and is in desperate need of repairs.

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The plan to restore the tunnel was initially stopped by the president. But now there are indications that Trump may be changing his tune. At a briefing with reporters he said he “has the money set aside but hasn’t decided to use it,” adding he has an open mind about it.

“I’m encouraged to hear that. I’m not sure what he wants in return other than a stronger America, which is what I’d like to help him achieve,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

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The North River tunnel is more than 100 years old. (Photo: NY Governor’s Office)

Democrats say they had a deal with President Barack Obama where the feds would fund half of the $12 billion to $13 billion project, and New York and New Jersey would split the rest.

Long Island Congressman Peter King spoke to CBS2’s Brennan via FaceTime about the president’s position on Gateway.

“He has told me privately he supports it, going back a year and a half now. He told me several times. So I think his people in the Freedom Caucus and in the Department of Transportation are holding it up,” King said.

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Some Democrats suspect the president sees the tunnel as a bargaining chip to get what he wants, but Sen. Chuck Schumer spokesperson told CBS2 on Thursday that he’s not trading the tunnel for a border wall.

In the meantime, the president on Wednesday also indicated he was open to revisiting the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction — or SALT — from his new tax plan.

“I think the president realizes, again, this is his home state. He has a real obligation, yes, to the whole country, but also he can’t be helping the rest of the country at the expense of New York,” Rep. King said.

Amtrak has said the existing tunnels are deteriorating so rapidly that some of the $2 billion of the estimated cost would go toward rehabilitating the two old tunnels after the new ones are built.