After a luncheon meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on Nov. 28, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York seemed optimistic that a deal could be reached in which the federal government picks up part of the cost of building new railroad tunnels under the Hudson River. The Gateway Tunnel project had been moving forward under the Obama Administration, but was put on hold when Trump took office.
“It was all good. The president got it,” Cuomo said about the meeting that also was attended by Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“I think it’s fair to say that the meeting was a positive meeting. I think it’s fair to say that the president was receptive to what we were talking about and the president said he wanted to take the next steps to find a way forward,” Cuomo said at a news conference.
Two tunnels carry train traffic between Manhattan and New Jersey. Without them, there would be a break in the northeast rail corridor, which runs through both Westchester and Fairfield counties. The tunnels are 100 years old and severely deteriorated, in part from having been flooded with saltwater during Superstorm Sandy.
Cuomo said a likely scenario would include setting up a corporation to oversee the rebuilding project that would have three representatives – one each from New York state, New Jersey and the federal government. A current estimate of the cost for building the tunnels is $13 billion, with $30 billion needed for an expanded Gateway Project including additional infrastructure.
Cuomo said that Trump seemed knowledgeable about various infrastructure projects underway in New York and expressed interest in the current rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport. Cuomo said various ideas for lengthening a runway at LaGuardia were discussed with the president. From 1989 to 1992, the Trump Shuttle, which Trump had acquired from Eastern Air Lines, flew out of LaGuardia between Boston and Washington. Trump’s private jets also have used LaGuardia.
Cuomo said there will be a follow-up involving Cotton, Kelly and Chao, but gave no specifics.
“New York does not own the tunnels. New Jersey does not own the tunnels. They are federally owned,” Cuomo said referring to The National Railroad Passenger Corp.,which does business as Amtrak.
Although political rivals, Cuomo did have some praise for Mr. Trump: “He has a development, construction background, so he knows these issues and he knows the questions of process and bidding and making sure the exposure is what everybody expects.”