Trump appears receptive to funding multi-billion Gateway tunnel project

Posted On Fri, September 8, 2017 By

Posted On Fri, September 8, 2017 By In Policy, Transportation

The path for a future Hudson River tunnel is being preserved at Hudson Yards, photo via Amtrak

Even though the U.S. Department of Transportation withdrew in July from the board that oversees the Gateway Program, President Trump is keeping an open-mind about the nearly $30 billion project that would add a second rail beneath the Hudson River. According to the Daily News, during a meeting at the White House between New York and New Jersey elected officials and the Trump administration, the president showed interest in the project and appeared to support having the federal government pay for half of the cost. The new train tunnel under the Hudson would provide a critical link between NJ and Penn Station.

Gateway Program, Hudson River, DOT
The two tunnels under the Hudson River that need repair, image via Amtrak

For over an hour, Trump spoke with officials from the area, including Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie. Rep. Peter King, a Republican who represents much of Long Island, said it was “one of the best meetings I have ever had at the White House or in Washington for that matter.” King added: “Nothing was signed off officially but every question had a positive answer. The impression I had was it was as close to being final as it could possibly be.”

The project’s completion is urgent, as the two-track tunnel, which takes Amtrak and NJ Transit passengers to and from New York City, is over 100 years old and was damaged severely by Hurricane Sandy. Construction of the two new tubes would allow for the damaged tunnels to be repaired. In addition to upgrading the tunnels, the plan would replace the Portal Bridge and expand Penn Station. If the damage causes one of the two tunnels to close, this could reduce train capacity into the city by 75 percent.

The Obama administration considered the Gateway project the most important transportation infrastructure project in the country. They made it a priority by fast-tracking its review process and committing half of the funding for the program.

Although Cuomo called the meeting productive, he said it was “inconclusive.” He said, “We confirmed our original agreement with the previous administration whereby the Port Authority would finance 50% with user fees and the federal government would contribute 50%,” Cuomo said. “I also affirmed that it was imperative the project would have to be done using design build like the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge, which the President agreed was a success.”

[Via NY Daily News]

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