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Cuomo says Trump must honor fed commitment to NY-NJ tunnel

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday, July 12,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on Wednesday to commit the Trump administration to build a new tunnel to New Jersey as promised by President Barack Obama.

There was no report of agreement or release of a timetable to act on the proposed tunnel. Cuomo said he needs assurances now on federal funding to start construction on the tunnel he estimates will take a decade to complete. Neither Cuomo nor Chao responded to requests for comment after the afternoon meeting behind closed doors in Washington.

“There has to be a sense of urgency,” Cuomo told reporters as he entered the meeting. The Obama administration had pledged $10 billion to build the new tunnel under the Hudson River with New York State and New Jersey each paying $5 billion, Cuomo said.

“We had a commitment under the prior administration,” the Democrat said. “I would like to see the federal government honor that commitment . . . there is no backup plan. The state cannot make up $10 billion to build a Gateway tunnel.”

Cuomo said that although planning is underway for the Gateway tunnel, construction will take 10 years.

“I wouldn’t want to be relying on these tunnels for 10 years,” he said.

Cuomo made the uncommon high-profile trip to Washington, D.C., as he takes increasing heat for mass transit delays in what he called a potential “summer of hell” in New York City. The state Metropolitan Transportation Authority runs the trains in New York City and on Long Island. He blames lack of timely repairs and maintenance by Amtrak, the national rail entity that owns Pennsylvania Station, for delays suffered by commuters on the Long Island Rail Road.

Cuomo said he hasn’t yet heard back from the Trump administration on his request for funding to speed up repairs and upgrades this summer.

“It’s turned out better than we thought so far,” Cuomo said. “But we came up with all sorts of elaborate contingency plans,” he said, referring to the temporary addition of ferries, buses and trains this summer.

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