Photo courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Flickr
Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans on sending video footage of the damaged tunnel under the Hudson River to Washington to show why federal funds are necessary for the repair project. On late Wednesday night, Cuomo toured the century-old tunnel that was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy and called on President Donald Trump to fund the Gateway Tunnel Project, which includes fixing the existing tunnel and constructing a new tunnel under the river. While President Barack Obama had pledged to split the cost of the $30 billion project, the Trump administration has said it won’t contribute federal funds.
In addition to being over 100 years old, the tunnels were severely damaged by a deluge of salt water from Sandy. While the water can be pumped out, the salt deteriorates components of the tunnels. Cuomo said he will send a video of the tour to the president to highlight the severity of the damage and to hopefully secure funding.
Many consider Gateway to be one of the most critical infrastructure projects in the country. The tunnel is the only intercity passenger rail that links New York and New Jersey, serving more than 200,000 daily commuters.
Plus, all Amtrak trains that operate between Washington and Boston pass through one of the single-track tunnels. The Northeast Corridor is said to create more than $50 billion in economic activity each year, with the region being home to more than 30 percent of all U.S. jobs.
“You have a level of damage that is possible to interrupt service for days and if you lose service of one of these tunnels for one, two or three days you’re talking about a devastating impact on the whole Northeast Corridor,” Cuomo said.
Gateway has received some bipartisan support. Last year, former NJ Gov. Chris Christie had reached a deal with Cuomo to fund the two states’ share of repairing the tunnels, or $5.5 billion of the $12.7 billion needed for that project. Overall, the Gateway project requires closer to $30 billion, which includes two new bridges and an expansion of Penn Station.
Even if funding is secured, it will take multiple years before construction starts, Cuomo said, cementing the project’s urgency.
“We’ve been talking about it in the abstract,” the governor said. “We thought it would be good if people actually saw the tunnel, saw what we’re talking about so you have a deeper appreciation of it.”
Congress approved in March a $1.3 trillion spending bill. But the package of legislation does not include direct funding for the tunnel project. Instead, the bill provides $650 million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and allocates $2 billion in grants, for which the Gateway Program Development Corp. can apply.
As 6sqft reported, the Department of Transporation said in a statement that the bill “removes preferential treatment for the New York and New Jersey Gateway projects.” And DOT board members, who are appointed by the president, review all federal grants to Amtrak.
- Approved spending bill includes funding for Gateway project, but on Trump’s terms
- Paul Ryan warns NY and NJ that Trump won’t fund Gateway Tunnel project
- Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan won’t fund Gateway project
All photos courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office