Cuomo on paying for Amtrak tunnel fix: No
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday further distanced himself from the problems plaguing the only rail tunnel connecting Midtown Manhattan to New Jersey, where much of Midtown's office workers live.
"It’s not my tunnel!" said Cuomo during an unrelated press conference at his own Midtown office. "Why don’t you pay for it? It’s not my tunnel. It is an Amtrak tunnel that is used by Amtrak and by New Jersey Transit."
Amtrak and the federal government want New York and New Jersey to chip in to help replace the more than century-old, two-track rail tunnel to Penn Station. It's owned by Amtrak, but the vast majority of trains that run through it are operated by New Jersey Transit.
It was already in sorry shape when Hurricane Sandy inundated it with brackish water, depositing salts that continue to gnaw away at its concrete and steel.
Amtrak's C.E.O. has said that one or both of its two tracks might have to be taken out of service in the next 20 years for repairs.
Christie unilaterally cancelled the last funded plan to create cross-Hudson rail redundancy, arguing that New Jersey might have to bear any cost overruns. He forfeited billions in federal funding for that project, and redirected much of the rest to road repairs within his own state.
Amtrak has since proposed a replacement project called Gateway. It's slated to cost billions of dollars more. (Cuomo puts the number at $14 billion, though estimates seem to vary widely. Amtrak put it at $16 billion.) It's not funded.
Recently, President Obama's transportation secretary called the region's inaction on Gateway "almost criminal."
Two weeks ago, he sent a letter to Christie and Cuomo requesting a meeting.
Following the intervention of U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Christie reportedly agreed to sit down with Foxx. Until the federal government does more than offer the region borrowed money at favorable terms, Cuomo doesn't see the point.
"There’s no moral, legal or ethical reason why the state should be looked at to fund it, or the states plural, New Jersey and New York," said Cuomo on Monday. "The federal government said they would provide funding and it turns out they would provide a loan and no more than a loan. My problem is not the loan. My problem is repaying the loan."
A reporter asked him why he was willing to take on debt for a new Tappan Zee Bridge.
"Because the Tappan Zee Bridge is a state bridge," he said.
Neither the federal transportation department nor Amtrak had an immediate comment.
--with additional reporting by Colby Hamilton