With New York Tunnel Project Stalled, Cuomo Will Meet With Trump
By Kenneth Lovett
Gov. Cuomo is set to head to Washington on Wednesday to meet with President Trump to again push for a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River.
The Gov. said Tuesday he is tentatively scheduled to meet with Trump and U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss the Gateway program that would double the number of passenger trains running under the Hudson River.
Cuomo and a contingent of New York and New Jersey officials previously met face-to-face with Trump at the White House in October, 2017 to discuss the project.
Cuomo administration aides didn't immediately say whether the governor will be traveling alone Wednesday or whether a similar delegation will be part of the discussion.
The governor several weeks ago sent Trump a video of the current two aging and crumbling tunnels used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit that he says threatens commerce in the northeast corridor should it collapse.
"I think the videos actually had a simple, but impactful effect with the President," the governor said during a Tuesday morning radio appearance on WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show."
Since sending the video, Cuomo said he and Trump have again spoken about the issue and tentatively scheduled Wednesday's meeting.
"These tunnels are federally-owned by the Amtrak Corporation and must be replaced," Cuomo said in a statement later Thursday. "If only one of the two 100-year-old tunnels becomes unusable, it would pose a serious economic hardship for New York City and the entire Northeast corridor."
Cuomo, then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the Barack Obama White House had reached a deal in which the federal government would pay for half the $11.1 billion Gateway project to build a new tunnel, with the New York and New Jersey-controlled Port Authority splitting the rest of the costs. Another $1.6 billion would be spent to rehab the two deteriorating tunnels that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy in four years.
But the Trump administration scrapped the agreement, saying there should be more local costs and less reliance on federal loans.
Cuomo urged the President to reverse course, saying that even if a decision was made immediately, it would likely take seven years get the project done.
After regularly trashing Trump during the recent gubernatorial campaign, Cuomo struck a less partisan tone Tuesday.
"This is not a partisan issue, but a practical government necessity,' he said in his Thursday afternoon statement.
In hopes of winning over Washington, Cuomo told Lehrer he is also focusing on the impact the tunnels failing would have on the entire northeast, which he said generates 20% of the nation's gross domestic product.
"You know, for the federal politics, when you say, New York, New Jersey, these are not states that voted for Republicans and I think everything is political down there," he said.
A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The governor on Monday had sent a letter to the state's congressional delegation urging they prioritize in the federal budget talks funding the Gateway project and ending the new federal tax law's elimination of most of the deductions of state and local taxes that he says will disproportionately harm New York and Democratic states.
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