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Cuomo to meet with Trump to discuss new train tunnel

November 27, 2018
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FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2018 file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo inspects the South Tube of train tunnels running between New York and New Jersey during an overnight tour. Cuomo is heading to Washington for meetings with President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss the need for a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Their meeting Wednesday, Nov. 28, comes after officials from New York and New Jersey have clashed over a funding plan for the tunnel. The existing tunnel is a century old and is falling apart. (Victor J. Blue/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo will travel to Washington on Wednesday to press President Donald Trump for federal funding for a new rail tunnel below the Hudson River.

The meeting comes as officials in New Jersey and New York express growing worries about the dilapidated, century-old tunnel owned by Amtrak that connects the two states. Experts have long said a new tunnel is needed to relieve congestion and prevent big problems at one of the most important transportation choke points in the nation.

Cuomo said he will also meet with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao during the one-day trip. He made a similar trip in July.

“I’m going to keep hammering away,” Cuomo said about the project during an interview Tuesday on WNYC radio. “This is one of those pressing, practical issues that we need resolution on for the good of New York and the entire northeast.”

Last month, Cuomo toured the existing tunnel and sent video footage to Trump that showed water dripping down the tunnel walls, broken electrical cables and disintegrating concrete.

Under an agreement reached with the Obama administration, New York and New Jersey agreed to pick up half the cost of the new tunnel, estimated to be $13 billion. But the Trump administration nixed that deal earlier this year, with Chao saying the two states need to pay more of the cost of the proposal known as the Gateway Project.

“They are two of the richest states in the country,” Chao said in March. “If they absorb all these funds, there will be no other funds for the rest of the country.”

The two-tube tunnel provides the only link under the Hudson for New Jersey Transit commuter trains and Amtrak trains traveling the Northeast Corridor. It suffered saltwater damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that is eating away at walls housing copper cables and electrical wires.

Amtrak, which owns the tunnels, has estimated one or both of the tunnel tubes could fail in the next 10 to 15 years. Cuomo estimates the new tunnel would take about seven years to build.

Trump’s administration has clashed with officials in New York and New Jersey over a funding plan for the tunnel project. The existing tunnel is a century old and in need of extensive renovations. Experts say a new tunnel is essential to ensuring reliable rail travel throughout the entire Northeast.

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This story has been corrected to show that the North River Trail tunnel is not the only rail connection between New York City and New Jersey. It is the only tunnel that serves Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains.

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