Spin Cycle

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ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday that he's trying to "frame the discussion" surrounding a rail tunnel under the Hudson River -- that is, making sure the federal government and the state of New Jersey accept that they must pay the bulk of the costs of the complicated project before New York puts money on the table, too.

"The big question of getting it done is 'Who pays?' " Cuomo said after calling in to NY1's morning news show.

"I want to frame the discussion right from the beginning," Cuomo told host Pat Kiernan. "This is a negotiation-posturing, if you will. The tunnel belongs to Amtrak. The federal government says it's a federal and national priority. After Amtrak, New Jersey transit uses it. So New York will do its fair share, but let's remember who uses the tunnel and the use, and we're starting to frame the proportionality of the discussion."

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Estimates of the price tag for the tunnel run around $14 billion, though Cuomo referred to it as a $20 billion project, saying "$20 billion is a killer number." U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also has said it would cost $20 billion or more.

Cuomo said the federal government has to provide the "lion's share" of the funding, New Jersey must contribute and, once they do, New York will "close the gap." 

A day earlier, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the state's two U.S. senators met with federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to discuss the project -- Cuomo was noted for his absence.

The New York governor had said it was premature to meet till the Obama administration committed significant funding to the project. "It's not my tunnel," Cuomo said a week ago.

The second-term governor, obviously eyeing his legacy, has been focusing on large-scale building projects, including the Tappan Zee Bridge and LaGuardia Airport.

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"I personally love to build. I believe it's one of the great legacies a governor can leave," Cuomo told NY1.