As New Jersey leaders met with federal officials to discuss the fabled plan to construct a new train tunnel under the Hudson River, Gov. Andrew Cuomo—who turned down the opportunity to take part in the conference—and Mayor Bill de Blasio backed up Senator Charles Schumer’s call for the federal government to finance the tube’s construction.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Garden State Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez and federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx met in Newark to discuss finding funding for the Gateway project—after Mr. Christie blocked a similar proposal in 2010 because he felt it left his state unfairly in the lurch for the funds, and after Mr. Cuomo has declaimed any responsibility for the current proposal. Construction, repairs and technical failures in the single existing tunnel have left commuters to suffer through delays in recent weeks, and Mr. de Blasio today described the current situation as untenable, given the projected employment and economic growth for the New York region.
“It’s necessary. It’s absolutely necessary for our future,” he told reporters at City Hall today. “In a dynamic of global competition, we should not just be looking, you know, a year ahead or five years ahead. We should be looking 10, 20, 30 years ahead.”
The mayor highlighted Mr. Schumer’s call last week for a “Gateway Construction Authority” that would allow the federally-funded Amtrak, the New York-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the joint New York-New Jersey Port Authority to combine resources—but which would be primarily funded by Amtrak and the Department of Transportation.
“I think Senator Schumer did a great service by putting forward a vision of how we break through this. Clearly, the federal government has to be the leading contributor here,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I think the senator is right to offer a proactive vision of where we need to go. The federal government needs to bring more to bear here. There’s no two ways about it.”
Mr. de Blasio declined to criticize Mr. Cuomo’s decision not to attend today’s meeting, which Mr. Foxx invited him to, but said governors of both states would have a role to play in the eventual plan.
Mr. Cuomo, for his part, reported being “excited by the dialogue” and echoed the mayor’s praise for Mr. Schumer’s proposal.
“It appears all parties are on the same page: the key to moving forward is obtaining federal grant support for the project,” he said in a press statement “Senator Schumer was correct last week when he called for the federal government to recognize the tunnel as a national priority and stated that the federal government must contribute the ‘maximum amount possible’ to its construction.”
The governor complained of a lack of past progress on the project, and strongly endorsed the creation of a new tunnel.
“I believe deeply in the need for this country and my state and region to invest in new infrastructure to maintain our economic prowess, and I stand ready to expedite any and all state processes to move this project forward,” he said. “In the same vein, I strongly support the construction of the new Hudson River tunnel – and a federal grant package that makes the project viable is an essential first step.”