Despite his campaign pledge to champion infrastructure, President Donald Trump has yet to fund half of the estimated $24 billion Gateway project, as promised last year. The funding question was central at a White House meeting Thursday with Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, as well as Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.
The face-to-face was "inconclusive," according to Cuomo.
Gateway would fund a proposed Hudson River tunnel, deemed crucial by politicians and transit experts in New York and New Jersey, that would take pressure off of the two aging, Sandy-damaged tunnels used by New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains to access Penn Station. If emergency repair work shuts off one of the existing tunnels before Gateway's completion, rail capacity into Penn Station would be slashed by 75 percent.
The Gateway Development Corporation formed in 2015 with board members from New York, New Jersey, Amtrak and the DOT. This came years after a major setback in 2010, when Christie pulled out of a Hudson Tunnel plan, citing concerns about an increased gas tax.
"The leaders from New York and New Jersey reiterated that construction of new passenger rail tunnels under the Hudson is not only urgent, but critical for the entire northeast region and long overdue," Cuomo stated Thursday night.
"We confirmed our original agreement with the previous administration whereby the Port Authority would finance 50 percent with user fees and the federal government would contribute 50 percent," Cuomo added. "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."
"The meeting was positive. The president was receptive and wants to get back to us on Gateway," Schumer added.
The White House stated that the Trump administration is "committed to creating a robust infrastructure package that will modernize and transform our nation’s infrastructure" and that "the president appreciates having the opportunity to hear more details about the program from elected officials representing the region."
Trump's Transportation Department, which is staring down a 13 percent funding cut in the president's proposed budget, withdrew from the Gateway Program Development Corporation in July. To date, his promised one trillion dollar stimulus package for infrastructure is nowhere to be seen. "One trillion dollars. Where is it?" Governor Cuomo wondered at a July event. "What happened to it?"