Home Gateway Tunnel Cuomo triples-down on trans-Hudson tunnel as Amtrak proposes funding split

Cuomo triples-down on trans-Hudson tunnel as Amtrak proposes funding split

by Benjamin Kabak

The bickering is heating up over a trans-Hudson rail tunnel. Is a solution near?

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday, for the third day out of four, stressed his view that a trans-Hudson tunnel will not happen without significant federal support and again stated his opposition to even a meeting on the issue. Speaking to reporters after a day of Amtrak testimony in front of the New Jersey Senate, Cuomo continued his game of high-stakes chicken.

“It’s not my tunnel,” he said, showing more of his cards than he probably intended. “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.”

The New New York Bridge, on the other hand, is his bridge, and Cuomo grew defensive when challenged on this project — one inarguably far less important to New York City than trans-Hudson rail capacity. Here’s how Dana Rubinstein of the newly-rebranded Politico New York reported on the exchange:

“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.

I said my piece on Cuomo’s misguided opposition to supporting a trans-Hudson rail tunnel in yesterday’s post, and he’s just making it worse. On the need to draw out federal dollars, Cuomo has a very valid point, but his rhetoric is parochial nonsense that hurts New York far more than it helps. Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie, he of the canceled ARC Tunnel, at least committed to meet with the feds later this month because Senator Cory Booker requested it. Cuomo can’t even seem to bridge that divide, and I don’t see how this is helping us — the New Yorkers who are his constituents.

Meanwhile, Amtrak has suggested a way forward. In a Senate hearing during which the rail agency presented a rather dire picture of future operations without substantial capital support and a new tunnel, agency officials proposed a funding solution involving the feds. It may be enough to silence Cuomo and get him to the table, but it would also require Capitol Hill to pick up over $11 billion of what is today expected to be a $14 billion project. Larry Higgs had more:

Amtrak officials told a state Senate panel that it needs at least $1 billion a year to bring its system into a state of good repair and that the canceled ARC tunnel would have provided some help if a Hudson River tunnel were forced out of service for repair.

Stephen Gardner, Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief of NEC Business Development, said it would take a recurring investment of at least $4 billion a year to replace aging infrastructure, including the 105-year-old Hudson River tunnels and the century old Portal Bridge…

Senator Robert Gordon, D-Bergen, who called the hearing said he’s hoping it will convince Christie and federal lawmakers of the seriousness of the problem. Gordon said he was heartened by Gardner’s testimony that the federal government could put up 80 percent of the estimated $14 billion funding for Gateway through a federal railroad reconstruction program that has $35 billion in uncommitted funds and a loan program that could help states fund their share over 35 years.

As The Times noted in its coverage of the hearing, Gardner noted that the proposed funding split was “common for aviation projects…and Amtrak carries three times as many passengers between New York and Washington as all the airlines put together.”

So we have an idea without a sponsor in D.C., a New Jersey governor who is a skeptic but will listen, and a New York governor who will show up only if the feds are, in his words, “serious” about contributing money rather than loans. Meanwhile, one line of argument from Amtrak is guiding this stand-off. As Gardner said yesterday, “The tunnel is under stress. To maintain the current level of service is a challenge.” It’s all a challenge.

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Walt Gekko August 11, 2015 - 12:33 am

This to me is showing he is concerned about certain donors who likely have major resentments for NYC and will go elsewhere if they don’t get what they want.

If Cuomo also seems anti-NYC on this, this might also come back to another reason:

When Mario Cuomo (the current Governor’s father) lost his bid for a fourth term as Governor in 1994, there were those, particularly in NYC proper who openly admitted they voted for Pataki in ’94 to get back at Clinton for not issuing an Executive Order to end the baseball strike (people forget now, but in 1994 the Yankees had not been in the playoffs in 13 years and many felt that was the best chance to get Don Mattingly a ring). While Newt Gingrich’s “Contract for America” likely was the real reason the elder Cuomo lost in ’94, I’m sure hearing that people in NYC voting against the elder Cuomo because of the baseball strike (even if that was really to get back at Clinton) likely PO’ed the younger Cuomo and in way might be why he may be the way he is on NYC, especially since there were those who felt if Mario Cuomo had been re-elected in 1994 and ’98, he would have run for President in 2000.

Cuomo in my view probably doesn’t want to do anything on this unless he doesn’t spend anything and he can take credit for it, knowing if he went along it could hurt him with specific donors.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 1:29 am

In nice round numbers, in 1994, Cuomo got two thirds of the vote in New York City.


Walt Gekko August 11, 2015 - 1:34 am

Obviously, not enough to overcome upstate at that time:

Given how some blamed the baseball strike (fair or not) for the Dems losing races given how some highly vocal admitted to voting GOP in ’94 to get back for the baseball strike, it made it seem like the elder Cuomo lost a lot of NYC vote when it was more likely he lost the upstate vote to Pataki.

In any event, how it happened was likely not lost on the current Governor and may explain a lot of why he’s the way he is and seemingly is anti-transit or anti-New York, knowing he needs suburban support to be re-elected.

Stephen August 11, 2015 - 10:39 am

I know it’s O/T, but I stopped caring about the Mets as a result of the strike. No more agita and no more applauding.

Larry Littlefield August 12, 2015 - 9:19 am

I didn’t attend, watch, listen to or read about baseball for a decade after the strike. But I’m back.


roxie August 11, 2015 - 1:57 am

i’m so glad our governor is completely transit-hostile pretty much 100% of the time. it’s really reassuring.

Von Clink August 11, 2015 - 7:06 am

Why should NY cover any of the cost? That’s what people pay taxes in NJ for. If people want a better commute, they can live in NY.

Walt Gekko August 11, 2015 - 7:27 am

This is a lot more than just New York and New Jersey. This is about the entire Northeast Corridor, which is a big deal for many between Boston and Washington.

This has to be done no matter what Cuomo thinks.

Justin Samuels August 11, 2015 - 12:36 pm

Why would Cuomo go out of his way to provide funding for the Northeast Corridor? He’s right! It’s not his tunnel or project. The federal government should provide funding for this as it crosses multiple states.

And where would NYS find the money to pay for this anyway? Would the state legislature agree to raise taxes? Would that get politicians voted out of office?

orulz August 11, 2015 - 9:41 am


Try this:

It helps people in NJ get to jobs in New York, and the companies that they work for definitely pay taxes in NY and definitely want the new tunnel. Good transit access from a very wide geographic area is a big reason why so many companies are located there.

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:20 am

The jobs aren’t moving. There’s still plenty of great transit access from (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Long Island, Westchester, Hudson Valley, Connecticut) and NY could improve access to Upstate for a fraction of the cost of the tunnels to New Jersey.

It’s Jersey who needs the tunnels. NY should be spending its funds on the Empire Corridor.

JRS August 11, 2015 - 11:49 am

Don’t NJ residents who work in NYC pay state incomes taxes to NY under a reciprocity agreement between NY and NJ? Pretty sure they do.

Also, it’s just bad economic strategy. NYC and NY State benefits from improved transportation to NJ. That’s just a fact. It’s in NY State’s interest to support this infrastructure.

Ralfff August 12, 2015 - 4:39 pm

Workers in NY pay NY income tax (though not city income tax if they don’t live in the city) but there is no reciprocity agreement. New Jerseyans must file NY & NJ state income taxes; in general the state in which you work gets first cut at income taxes & because NY income taxes are generally much higher than NJ’s they pay all that with none left over for NJ income tax.

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:21 am

Everyone, nationwide, pays income taxes in the state where they work. The state where they live generally doesn’t “double tax”, though in some cases it does.

Bolwerk August 13, 2015 - 2:16 pm

AIUI, the income tax payments to the state where you work generally act as an income tax credit to the state where you live.

adirondacker12800 August 13, 2015 - 2:26 pm

New Jersey income taxes are lower than New York’s. The excess goes to Albany never to be seen again.

AlexB August 11, 2015 - 8:17 pm

The cost of land is highest in New York City. The more land we put within a short travel distance of Manhattan and allow people to spread out, the more slowly costs will rise throughout the whole NYC region, and the more successful we’ll all be. The benefits of another tunnel will be felt most in NY and NJ, but in every state from Virginia to Massachusetts. NJ and NY should pay a bit more, but the Feds should be ponying up most of the money.

Nyland8 August 11, 2015 - 7:25 am

Unlike the proposed ARC project that Christie unilaterally crushed, the Amtrak Gateway project does not seem to carry provisions for the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines to run directly into NYPenn.

Perhaps if it did, Cuomo could make a rationalization that it served upstate New Yorkers in a way that the current project clearly doesn’t.

Walt Gekko August 11, 2015 - 7:28 am

Which likely means if Cuomo said he was for it, someone come 2018 would remember it and use it against Cuomo in advertising.

AlanF August 11, 2015 - 10:25 am

The Secaucus Loop is part of the Gateway project plan, although it would be up to NJT and NY/MNRR to come up with the funds for it, because the loop has no use to Amtrak or intercity passenger rail.

There is a newer Gateway project overview map than shown above that is available on Amtrak’s NEC projects website nec.amtrak.com. There is also a updated 4 page fact sheet for the Gateway project: http://nec.amtrak.com/content/gateway-program.

The map shows the project separated into 2 components: State of Good Repair needed to keep the NEC operating: 2 new tunnels, North Portal Bridge, Sawtooth bridge replacement or rebuild. The second component is High Line expansion with 4th track at Harrison, South Portal Bridge, 2 new tracks on the NJ side, Penn Station South. I think the outcome of the political brinksmanship and from the 2 Governors, after a lot of bluster and posturing, will be to split Gateway into 2 or 3 phases and fund Phase 1 for now. Phase 1 would the State of Good Repair components for how ever many billions that costs, Phase 2 would be South Portal Bridge and 4 through tracks on the NJ side, Phase 3 would be Penn Station South expansion. Cuomo, Christie, the feds, Amtrak, the NEC Commission can kick Phases 2 and 3 into the 2020s and find the funding for those phases later.

Nyland8 August 11, 2015 - 6:29 pm

Alan F. “The Secaucus Loop is part of the Gateway project plan, although it would be up to NJT and NY/MNRR to come up with the funds for it, because the loop has no use to Amtrak or intercity passenger rail.”

Which is another way of saying it needn’t have anything to do with Gateway at all. Nothing is stopping NJT/MNRR from building the loop now – other than the absence of some simple bi-state cooperation in recognition that it’s a smart idea that serves the best interest of the region. If NY/NJ have to come up with the funding for the loop themselves anyway, who needs Gateway?

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 10:31 pm

Without Gateway the trains wouldn’t have anyplace to go. At peak they are running as many trains as they can. There’s no point until there is someplace in Manhattan for the trains to go to.

Nyland8 August 12, 2015 - 11:00 pm

Less can come in from the more southern routes – in exchange for some portion of trains coming in from the Bergen and Main Lines. This becomes an advantage for MetroNorth, and a justification for more NY state spending. It will serve New Yorkers.

adirondacker12800 August 12, 2015 - 11:30 pm

They are already running standing room only 12 car trains from the south. Canceling those trains is not an option.

Nyland8 August 12, 2015 - 11:36 pm

I’m not talking about canceling trains – I’m talking about ending their ride in Lautenberg.

All I’m saying is that if New York State is to provide money, then New Yorkers have to benefit. Running Orange and Rockland County trains into NYPenn benefits New Yorkers.

adirondacker12800 August 13, 2015 - 12:32 am

You can’t unload a 12 car train and hope to wedge them all onto a 6 car train. The people in Bergen County voted for automobile-uber-alles or knew what they were getting into when they moved there. Tough, they’ll have to wait until the new tunnels are completed.

Patrick O'Hara August 11, 2015 - 8:00 am

The New New York Bridge, on the other hand, is his bridge, and Cuomo grew defensive when challenged on this project — one inarguably far less important to New York City than trans-Hudson rail capacity.

The bridge may be far less important to New York City than trans-Hudson rail capacity, but it’s inarguably far more important to those who live in the Hudson Valley and a large part of the upstate region than a rail tunnel to Midtown Manhattan.

As frequently as people criticize Cuomo for forgetting about New York City and the downstate region, many seem to forget that there’s more to New York State beyond 243rd Street, and the Governor is responsible for all of it, on behalf of everyone in the state.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 9:20 am

However, the population split of NY is roughly 60/ 40 favoring the NYC region. Also keep in mind that areas beyond are suffering population decline while the NYC area holds steady or keeps growing.

Hank August 11, 2015 - 10:31 am

The state’s population is around 19.5M. Of that population, the large majority live in NYC (8.5M); The population of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, and Rockland counties combined is another 2M plus.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 10:48 am

Add three million for LI.

The non-NYC portion of the state is roughly six million residents spread over fifty counties & dropping.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 10:52 am

Roughly speaking, only about six million of the states population live outside the NYC region & that number is shrinking.

VLM August 11, 2015 - 9:23 am

Let me just call this what it is: parochial bullshit. If you think trans-Hudson rail capacity is less important to New York state on the whole just because it connects New York state with the rest of the U.S. (rather than New York state to another part of New York state), you are just eating the crap Cuomo is shoveling here.

And while it may be impolitic to say it, the trans-Hudson rail tunnel is more important to the city and the entire region than an unnecessary and underjustified and unfunded new bridge on which Cuomo will eventually stick his dad’s name.

Stephen August 11, 2015 - 10:44 am

I hope your comment about the new bridge’s name does not come true. Please, oh, please let it not come true.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 11:11 am

Don’t forget to click your heels!

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 1:50 pm

I have it on pretty good authority that Cuomo and his dad didn’t get along that well anyway.

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 12:56 pm

I agree it’s vital to the region, but I’m not sure it’s that important to New York State or New York City. Almost any subway project even in discussion would be more useful to NYC or NYS.

The most important thing to NYC/NYS regarding trans-Hudson rail is Amtrak, and that’s under the least threat of being taken from us.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 2:13 pm

Wikipedia says New York City gets 56 million visitors a year. Amtrak has 9.5 million boardings and alightings a year in Manhattan. They aren’t all class trips on Acela from schools in Brooklyn and Queens to see the sights in Philadelphia. The people on expense accounts filling it could just stay home. Or go to a vendor in Chicago.

BGGB August 11, 2015 - 10:00 am

The bridge may be far less important to New York City than trans-Hudson rail capacity, but it’s inarguably far more important to those who live in the Hudson Valley and a large part of the upstate region than a rail tunnel to Midtown Manhattan.

It’s quite arguable.

I live on the West side of the Hudson and a project like ARC could/would mean the return of commuter rail service up the west side of the river (where there is currently only freight service) for those of us who can’t afford to live on the east side, from Westchester to Poughkeepsie.

A huge part of New York State is in fact west of the Hudson, even just those areas that would commute to NYC.

Rob August 11, 2015 - 11:29 am

I think it is wrong to posit this as a downstate vs. upstate thing. Instead, it is a car+truck bridge vs. a rail tunnel thing.

Many of us in the Hudson Valley think the “New New York Bridge” is an oversized boondoggle that will only incentivize driving, and lead to more sprawl. There were numerous municipal resolutions passed in the run-up to the new ny bridge calling for a smaller bridge with transit. These were ignored.

Meanwhile, our county bus systems suck, and are rendered even more sucky by this reinforcing of sprawl patterns.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 5:31 pm

Bee-line or TOR in your case.

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:32 am

The Tappan Zee bridge serves no function for New York City, and it serves no function for Upstate. Let me run through this:

(1) For most of Central and Western NY, the fastest route by car or bus to NYC goes through Scranton and New Jersey and the Lincoln Tunnel.
(2) Anything north of Albany or in the I-90 corridor crosses the river at Albany and takes the Taconic State Parkway.
(3) Most of the Hudson Valley population is east of the Hudson and never has to cross the river at all.
(4) For most of the people on the west side of the Tappan Zee bridge, the obvious route to NYC goes through New Jersey and the George Washington Bridge.
(5) Most local trans-Hudson traffic crosses at Bear Mountain or points north.

The Tappan Zee Bridge is totally unnecessary for New York City traffic! It serves a minor local function for Tarrytown-Nyack traffic — but its main function is for trucks going to Connecticut!

I consider it a major waste of New York taxpayer funds. Connecticut should have paid for it if they wanted it.

Julius Henry Cohen August 11, 2015 - 9:28 am

Cuomo is bluffing, and it’s not a brilliant one at all, for three reasons:

1. The public still doesn’t know how much tolls will have to increase to cover construction costs for the new Tappan Zee bridge. I’m willing to bet that Cuomo does, and it’s probably a significant-enough increase that his staff has concluded the public won’t also accept bearing the cost of new tunnels.

2. The governor and Vice President Joe Biden jointly announced a major federal funding commitment for the overhaul of LaGuardia Airport. Less than two weeks later, the governor is publicly saying the federal government isn’t serious enough about infrastructure because it offered a $14B loan for the tunnels? He willingly accepted loans for the new Tappan Zee, so I think the tea leaves are telling us that the mortgage is maxed out, so to speak.

3. He appears to have lost his ambition for the presidency. You couldn’t ask for a better project to demonstrate a national focus than being the power broker who brings together competing interests to save the deteriorating linchpin of transit in the most heavily populated corridor in the country. It’s used by a who’s who of powerful business people and politicians.

Cuomo has publicly refused to embrace Move New York, the only plan with a serious shot at reducing vehicle congestion in Manhattan, and creating a stable revenue stream for transit infrastructure, one that could back major bond issues to fund projects critical to the region’s continued economic growth. The Tappan Zee isn’t as critical to the region as expanding the subway, and building new Hudson tunnels, so does he really care about doing what’s best for the state and region, or did he just want a project that could bear the Cuomo name and mark his legacy? Because the rest of his decisions on transit and infrastructure threaten to leave us with a legacy that’s going to deeply hurt the region for decades.

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:34 am

The main problem is that Andrew Cuomo is an idiot. I blame brain damage from childhood; he was a car nut, and that was in the days of leaded gasoline, so he probably has lead poisoning.

Larry Littlefield August 11, 2015 - 9:43 am

Cuomo is absolutely positively right!

A loan is not a federal contribution. It means there is zero federal contribution, even as NY pays taxes for actual money to go to projects elsewhere.

By the way, the same applies to the State of New York’s contribution to the MTA for the past 20 years. And any “contribution” Cuomo imagines making to the MTA capital plan.

Alex August 11, 2015 - 1:11 pm

His sentiment on debt may be right but his approach is absolutely positively wrong. He could be pushing for proper federal support and working with the Feds and NJ. Instead, he’s basically saying the project really isn’t all that important to NY which is insane.

Neil August 11, 2015 - 10:10 am

So Amtrak’s plan is for the federal government to fork over $11 billion? Can they count to 218 in House and 60 in the Senate? Republicans in Congress have been and remain the most important obstacle to getting any federal financing. They is no political strategy for how to get sufficient votes in Congress. Voting against Amtrak funding in particular and against NY/NJ in general is the easiest vote they make.

g August 11, 2015 - 10:28 am

The plan is that there is no plan to secure funding. There are ideas, schemes, and machinations but no plan because there is nobody in power willing to take ownership and craft a solution.

The current state of things will continue until one of the tunnels has to be taken out of service due to safety then the finger pointing will erupt with a vengeance.

JJJJ August 11, 2015 - 10:13 am

The solution is simple. On Monday September 14, when almost nobody is on vacation, at around 5:47am, Amtrak needs to discover a problem in one of the tunnel tubes. The tunnel then needs to be closed for emergency repairs, which due to complications, extend until 8:22pm that evening. That results in an entire day of single tracking. Tuesday and Wednesday need to experience residual delays, whatever that means.

Repeat every other week as needed.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 11:09 am

An improvised explosive may just do the trick. After all the dollars would be flowing on mass & polititions would be falling all over themselves to get into the spotlight. Mission accomplished! Remember Naomi Klein?

JJJJ August 11, 2015 - 11:11 am

This is true. Evoke Homeland Security and watch the billions pour in.

Chet August 11, 2015 - 12:44 pm

I’ve been thinking along the same lines.
There needs to be a transportation catastrophe in the existing tunnels. That means a train stuck in a tunnel for a few hours. That side of the tunnel being out of commission for two or three days, causing a massive reduction in Northeast Corridor traffic on Amtrak and NJTransit.
Then, just when they get that tube working again, a week or so later, a similar event happens in the other tube. Then something happens to the Portal Bridge- like it gets stuck in the up position for a day or two.
As northeast train traffic comes to a halt, the roads become a parking lot with more cars and buses. The airports as well experience problems as the Boston-NYC-DC shuttle flights are packed.
With total transport gridlock, not only would the money flow quickly to fix it, but the timeline for approvals and construction would be amazingly fast as well.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 2:04 pm

Trains get stuck in the tunnel now. Portal Bridge gets stuck. It makes for a really long commute. There was that accident in North Philadelphia earlier this year which was a preview of what would happen to Amtrak service. Doesn’t have to be the tunnels west of Manhattan. The tunnels west of Baltimore are older and ripe to have a serious problem.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 4:16 pm

True, but if the so called disaster happens near NYC, the reverberations will become that much louder.

Chet August 11, 2015 - 6:59 pm

I was thinking of adding in something like a cave in in the Baltimore tunnel..it’s only 143 years old…

That entire tunnel is a huge block to any high speed service. Trains now have to slow down there to 30mph. It not only needs total replacement, the route has to change so it is straighter.

lop August 11, 2015 - 5:36 pm


The [Portal] bridge has contributed to more than 200 delays from the beginning of 2013 through July 2014, according to NJ Transit.

Walt Gekko August 12, 2015 - 12:31 am

Sept. 14 happens to be Rosh Hashanah, so commuter travel that and the next day would be minimal as many take off for that Jewish Holiday.

The time to do that is the following Monday, Sept. 21. Everyone is at work that Monday and Tuesday and many are likely to be working abbreviated weeks (some just Monday and Tuesday) between Yom Kippur starting that Tuesday night, a Muslim holiday that week and the Pope’s visit to Philly at the end of that week when many will be traveling to Philly for that (and Philly is expecting TWO MILLION people for the Pope).

Doing it that week would demonstrate clearly what is needed.

Nyland8 August 12, 2015 - 6:46 am

You are diabolical, Walt.

SEAN August 12, 2015 - 10:40 am

Don’t forget brilliant.

Hank August 11, 2015 - 10:36 am

Cuomo is either bluffing, or a complete imbecile. Several hundred thousand commuters from New Jersey enter NYC through those tunnels on a daily basis. Every one of them is spending or earning dollars in NYC and NY State. If those people can’t get to their jobs, they will find jobs elsewhere. They will spend their dollars elsewhere. If companies see the writing on the wall as far as NYC’s infrastructure is concerned, they will relocate to Jersey City, Hoboken, and Newark. And each of those cities will be more than happy to take them, as it represents job growth to them. And with those jobs, so too will go the spending money of those employees.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 11:13 am

Who says that both maybe true.

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:37 am

Evidence from other parts of Cuomo’s history indicates that “complete imbecile” is correct. This is the guy who showed up late for the gubernatorial debate and is generally considered to have put in an awful performance, bested by the “Rent is 2 Damn High” guy and bested by the whore.

He *finally* did the right thing banning fracking, but it was bloody obvious not just on the environment and the economics, but also on the politics, about 5 years earlier.

He’s dumb. He got elected because way too many people are dumb enough to vote based on a family name.

eo August 11, 2015 - 11:34 am

It is a waaaaay more complicated than that. Cuomo is certainly not making any friends at the US DOT or with any commuters/travelers and is clearly underestimating the importance of the tunnels. He is however making other calculations along the lines of:

1. He just promised $8.5B to the MTA capital plan that he does not have. He also does not have all the money for the Tappan Zee. He is probably planning to bundle the two together and get some tax/toll inclrease through the NY legislature to pay for these.
2. The ESA might be behind schedule by many years, but it will still open at least a decade before any new trans-Hudson tunnel, so he is counting on people favoring strongly Long Island over NJ once ESA opens. Who will be the commuter who in their right mind will move to NJ if it means 2 hours commute (I want to se how the PABT will handle another 50K passengers a day or the Lincoln Tunnel another 5K cars)? So the bet is that any and all economic development will happen in NY state(primarily LI) at the expense of NJ.
3. Politically he really does not need to pay — only small portion of the voters in Orange/Rockland counties commute by train. NJ commuters do not vote for NY elections.

Not defending the governor … Not even agreeing to a meeting is certainly a bad decision, but there is hardly any reason for him to come pony up any cash for this …

Justin Samuels August 11, 2015 - 12:52 pm

The people on this forum are train fanatics who can’t see that in both NYS and NYC politicians have OTHER important issues to spend money on and deal with.

Yes Cuomo will have to push forward the 8.5 billion dollar addition to the MTA Capital budget through the state legislature. That will have to be funded somehow and if it is a tax or toll increase he simply cannot afford another tax or toll increase to fund Gateway.

Since the feds are speaking of the effect this would have on the Northeast Corridor THEY need to pay for it. And Cuomo is again right what is the point of meeting the feds if they do not have the money?

As for commuters NYC itself has been doing pretty well as many prefer urban living over suburban living. Look at neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens that border the East River, look at gentrification in Manhattan, etc. Lots of new building construction in NYC and high real estate values.

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 1:53 pm

What is a “train fanatic”?

AlexB August 11, 2015 - 9:09 pm


adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 2:06 pm

Part of the reason there’s high real estate values is because people can get on a train and be Washington DC and points in between faster than any other way that doesn’t involve a private helicopter.

Justin Samuels August 12, 2015 - 2:14 pm

Real estate values in NYC have nothing to do with being able to take a train to DC. NYC is the nation’s business capital, a leading tourist destination, the media capital, and a center of education.

And it is neither the responsibility of the governor nor mayor of NYC to make it easy for people to travel by train to other parts of the region. That responsibility falls on the federal government.

The entire Gateway Project costs 25 billion and that is money NY and for that matter NJ don’t have.

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:39 am

NJ most certainly has the money. NJ simply refuses to raise its taxes to the same level as NY and CT. If NJ taxes matched NY and CT taxes, they’d have the money immediately.

Jason August 11, 2015 - 12:16 pm

This is the same person that said the MTA was not a state agency to get out of being responsible to help funding it so… 2018 cannot come soon enough.

Larry Littlefield August 11, 2015 - 1:05 pm

And the superior politician who will replace Andrew Cuomo is?

Cuomo was made Governor by acclimation simply because our state politicians are so awful, there was thought to be no other alternative.

We’d have been better off with Golisano or Suozzi back in the day. There is no one close to that good out there now. Heck, who is left that isn’t under indictment?

The pols are the worst of a bad generation, and out of that generation you really need the best. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps Vietnam. Those who wrestled with the moral issues and did their duty by going or paying a price to oppose the war got screwed. They are the losers. The country is being run by the winners — those who ignored the moral issues and just weaseled out.

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 1:48 pm

I’d say our last two governors were much better. Spitzer just unfortunately had a Bill Cosbyesque compulsion, although a consensual one. Paterson was a lackluster politician, but he had more vision (sorry) than Cuomo.

Larry Littlefield August 11, 2015 - 2:49 pm

Paterson is the best we had. People couldn’t distinguish circumstances from performance, and his key aide was corrupt.

Spitzer was a disaster. He was screwing the young in far more consequential ways the Client 9.


In any event those guys are out of the picture. Who is left?

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 4:19 pm


I’m actually not cheering for a Cuomo indictment. Hochul arguably is worse than him.

That said, I might still draw some schadenfreude from a Cuomo indictment….

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:40 am

The whore who ran for governor last time or the time before would have done a better job than Andrew Cuomo.

Really, nominate anyone on the Democratic party line, they’ll be better.

Nathanael August 13, 2015 - 11:41 am

But more practically, Eric Schneiderman’s a decent guy and would be OK.

Bolwerk August 13, 2015 - 2:21 pm

Yeah, at least a randomly selected Democrat would probably not be so receptive to state GOP corruption and reactionary policies. There are issues besides the budget,

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 2:06 pm

Cuomo should learn to negotiate better. If NYS is to pay for NJT’s tunnel, you’d think he could ask that the states, feds, and PA go ¼-¼-¼-¼ on Hudson tunnels plus the Brooklyn freight connection. Or, Hudson tunnels plus TZB rail.

A bundle like that is fair to New Jersey, and a much better deal for NYS.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 2:50 pm

If the subway to the middle of a swamp is nearly useless there’s a lot less people in Rockland county and not many of them want to go to Westchester.

g August 11, 2015 - 3:19 pm

One only negotiates when you think you need something. From Cuomo’s perspective he doesn’t need to help NJ with NY funds at all. It’s shortsighted and arguably damaging to the region but it resonates with NY taxpayers so it’s a really safe play. Even in the worst case scenario at least most Amtrak service will continue so he doesn’t really care.

I really hate to say it but the PA should probably be the driving force behind increasing trans hudson capacity in whatever form that may take. Congress, for the foreseeable future, isn’t going to give Amtrak billions to build out Gateway even in a phased scheme.

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 4:21 pm

I kind of think the PA should have been the driving force in the first place (it’s the PA’s job), but the predators Christie and Cuomo ran their credit card bills up on vanity projects.

SEAN August 11, 2015 - 5:27 pm

Turnpike widening & Tapan Zed, right? Intentially misspelled.

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 5:37 pm

Various other road projects too I think, notably the Pulaski Skyway. Christie started it, but Cuomo tolerated it and probably did his own cannibalizing.

I guess they could still be stopped, but you could add LGA and the meh PATH Newark extension. The two of them together probably cost about half of Gateway, and likely billions more than nis needed for a tunnels.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 6:06 pm

PATH is at capacity between Newark and the World Trade Center. They want to run 10 car trains instead of 8 car trains. They lengthened Exchange Place when it was closed, rebuilt Harrison, the platforms at Newark, Journal Square and the World Trade Center are that long or longer. Only thing left to do is lengthen Grove Street. Which is being studied.
They have to store all those lengthened trains somewhere. Extend the storage from South Street and they are in the airport. The station part is going to be cheap. There are provisions for it at the Airtrain station.

johndmuller August 11, 2015 - 8:44 pm

There are some transit elements where I gladly subsume all rational considerations in favor of aesthetic and/or artistic elements. One of those is Streetcars and another is the Pulaski Skyway. I am absolutely intransigent w/r streetcars versus buses no matter whatever the arguments, so it needs no justification in my mind, although there are in fact some to be had.

When it comes to the Pulaski Skyway, I think of it as a great work of Industrial Art, a classic Great Bridge, even within a metropolitan area with numerous other Great Bridge candidates. This, I hasten to add is in spite of having driven the Skyway, which is definitely not a world class aesthetic experience. In any event, I can forgive Christie and the PA for diverting funds toward Pulaski Skyway restoration even though it has only the most tenuous of connections to the PA’s mission (that of being a feeder to the Holland Tunnel serving trucks and their port-related freight).

Indeed the PA should be a major contributor to this project, having a far closer connection to the PA mission – Penn Station is really a “Port” as much as LGA; JFK and EWR arguably are much more into freight, as are, of course, the container terminals, but ports are about passengers too. Furthermore, the PA has the kind of income stream that has bankers and Wall Street types falling over each other to finance whatever they want. Presumably, the WTC will once again be adding some positive cash flow to the mix as well as all the tolls.

Someone needs to find a way for NJ to pay more than NY in accordance with their relative stakes in this project – in such a way as to inoculate Cuomo without infecting Christie. I would have thought that the LGA stuff was it, except it apparently wasn’t; someone will have to work that out.

Someone also needs to give Cuomo a hug and a lolly pop and get him to stop throwing eff bombs across the river.

Fortunately, no one has been recently attacking the Hell Gate Bridge, another of my local sacred cows, but people do keep suggesting it be cluttered up with subway trains.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 10:43 pm

The Skyway is cars only and has been for a long time.

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 5:39 pm

Oh, and Tappan Zee cannot take PA money. It’s not in PA territory, but just outside; that’s why it’s located on the widest/dumbest point for a crossing. That is just outside the PA’s zone.

I’m not sure about the Turnpike, but that money was probably diverted from the NJ contribution to ARC, not the PA’s contribution to ARC.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 5:52 pm

The Port Authority rummaged around in it’s couch cushions and found 3 billion dollars for ARC. I’m sure Amtrak is gonna hit them up for 4 or 5 billion for Gateway. And New Jersey for more than they would have spent on ARC.

….3 billion for ARC is cheaper than building a set of bus tubes at the Lincoln and a bigger bus terminal. Or quad tracking PATH or both.
5 billion for Gateway is a lot cheaper too.
The Turnpike kicked in a little over a billion because that’s cheaper than widening the Turnpike for all the buses that would have been headed for the Lincoln and the bigger bus terminal.

Nyland8 August 11, 2015 - 7:01 pm

Bolwerk – “(it’s the PA’s job)”

Is it? I don’t think so.

The Port Authority – any port authority’s – job is to regulate commerce – i.e. “shipping” – NOT commuters. The Port Authority’s job is to administer the local air ports; the shipping Ports of Elizabeth, Newark, and New York; commercial trucking (all of which goes across the bridges – not through the tunnels); and interstate freight rail; (like the tunnel the PA was supposed to build 100 years ago).

But it actually has no mandate to control interstate commuter traffic per se, and the fact that it runs the PATH system is merely a cruel twist of fate, and unfortunate timing.

The Port Authority doesn’t control Amtrak, NJTransit, or NJT/MNRR hybrid commuter rails, all of which run interstate under the Hudson.

Bolwerk August 11, 2015 - 7:40 pm

The PA does have a mandate to develop Hudson crossings. Actually, it basically has a monopoly on developing them, though I suppose the Feds could overrule them.

adirondacker12800 August 11, 2015 - 10:40 pm

One of the main reasons the Port Authority was created was that the harbor was congested. With ferries. Passengers don’t need to be on boats. The most effective way to get them across the Hudson is on trains. It leaves room for the freight arriving by boat to actually cross the harbor.

Justin Samuels August 12, 2015 - 9:59 pm

The Port Authority does control the tunnels and tolls between NY and NJ. They own the Port Authority bus terminal and the George Washington Bridge Bus terminal.

With that said it is not the responsibility of the Port Authority to cough up 25 billion dollars for the Gateway project. Gateway benefits the whole Northeast corridor and should be FEDERALLY funded!

Nyland8 August 12, 2015 - 11:28 pm

No … they do NOT control the tunnels into NYPenn, which is used by Amtrak and NJTransit.

Those tunnels are administered by Amtrak. The only reason the PANY/NJ controls the other crossings is by agreement between New York and New Jersey. If New York and New Jersey agreed tomorrow that a cross town subway could go out to Lautenberg, that’s where it would go, and the PA would have no say in the matter. The Hudson crossing agreement is written on paper – not carved in stone. Likewise the PATH system, which should be subsumed into the MTA.

A Port Authority’s domain is to control commerce – not commuters.

That said, I’d LIKE the Fed to pick up the tab for whatever new crossing might seem destined to come our way – but if it is entirely federally funded, then it is entirely federally owned and operated, which puts New Jersey in the same position they’re in with the two existing tunnels. They won’t control them.

If some equitable cost-sharing agreement can be reached between the feds and the two states, then I’m in favor of it. But it will have to involve some genuine benefit to the citizens of New York – like perhaps MetroNorth through running NYPenn from Orange County to Duchess County. If the only thing it does is bring New Jerseyans into NYC, then whatever financial involvement we have should be proportional to the benefit.

adirondacker12800 August 13, 2015 - 12:17 am

New Jerseyans ( and Connecticuters and Pennsylvanians and people who commuter even longer distances ) pay New York State and New York City income taxes. If they can’t get to work they don’t make any income to tax. To the the tune of 5 billion dollars a year in taxes last I heard.

adirondacker12800 August 13, 2015 - 12:22 am

If the commuters all decide to drive to work things gridlock from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts and commerce comes to a grinding halt.

Nyland8 August 13, 2015 - 5:56 am

I’m not arguing against the tunnels, 12800. I’m arguing in favor of giving one New York governor a political pretext for chipping in. And that involves serving New Yorkers “upstate”. The more counties served, the bigger the political rationale.

As for out-of-staters paying NY taxes, if they really couldn’t get to work, then New Yorkers would get their jobs, or they’d be forced to become New Yorkers. 7 years ago I used to come across the GWB every AM, until I got tired of the commute and moved into the city. I decided my time was more valuable than to be spending the equivalent of another working day-and-a-half every week just getting to and from.

It all doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen without warning, so nothing “comes to a grinding halt”. That’s being hyperbolic. Let them leave for work earlier, let them leave work later, let them drink and dine in the city while they wait for the next available bus, let them flex time their jobs … whatever. But nothing comes grinding to a halt.

If I had my way, the federal government would pony up 100 billion dollar$ for regional NYC infrastructure projects, and these discussions would be moot. If we can “borrow” a couple of Trillion $ for war, occupations and “nation building” in the Middle East and Central Asia, then we sure as hell should be able to keep one of the most important cities on the planet – a global economic engine – humming happily along for a tiny fraction of that money.

AlexB August 11, 2015 - 9:22 pm

The thing no one is talking about is that there is a way to avoid major disaster and increase reliability quickly by building a one track tunnel immediately. It would start just northeast of Secaucus Junction and connect to the existing Penn Station. This would allow them to repair the existing tunnels while building the 2nd tunnel, Penn South, the Secaucus Loop, the Portal Bridge, the Sawtooth Bridge and the rest of the track to connect the whole thing to the Northeast Corridor. You could do this for about $3 billion. You could probably find a way to condense the 2-4 year environment review process (ridiculous) down to 6 months or less and get it built in 3 years. They’ve already basically started work in Manhattan and NJ. We forget that Gateway is not one project but a package of projects of differing levels of importance.

The thing that sucks about Cuomo is that he’s not wrong- the Feds should be footing the bill. The problem is that he should be meeting with Schumer, Fox, and all of Congress along with Christie to convince them of the need to fund the tunnel yesterday. Instead, he’s just playing politics and not getting anything done.

Eric August 12, 2015 - 5:01 am

You could build a two track tunnel for not much more.

You’re correct that all the other parts of Gateway are of lower importance, but building a one-track vs a two-track tunnel, or vs two identical parallel one-track tunnels, is a false economy.

Larry Littlefield August 12, 2015 - 9:24 am

I’ve they’re going to do anything, it should be a three track tunnel. One into Penn to allow the existing tunnels to be repaired, and two tunnels to operate during maintenance. And the Flushing Line to Secaucus Transfer.

It would perhaps be three one-track tunnels under the Palisades, and three-track pre-made concrete tunnel segments — with fire doors between them — sunk into a trench in the Hudson and buried, a-la the 63rd Street tunnel.

AlexB August 12, 2015 - 9:34 am

If you’re only using one tunnel boring machine like they did for ESA, you could open up one of the tracks before the other and the cost would be basically the same. The tunnels are in such bad shape, it’s really critical to get a backup in place as soon as possible.

eo August 12, 2015 - 11:05 am

Is there a public document describing the state of the tunnels? Everyone says they are in bad shape, but is there some study or evaluation with pictures and other data (for example on spalling concrete, icicles in the winter, etc.)? I singled out pictures because ” a picture is worth a thousand words”.

AlanF August 12, 2015 - 5:51 pm

Yes, there was an engineering assessment report released in September, 2014 on the state of the Hudson and East River tunnels. 57 page PDF report by Amtrak and HNTB. A Google search for nyc-tunnels-assessment-report turns up the PDF report file at several location. Has useful material with historical background, the design, profile, and geology of the tunnels. The salt water incursion did serious long term damage to the East River and Hudson River tunnels that were flooded.

adirondacker12800 August 12, 2015 - 11:58 am

In 1970 there was mud on the bottom of the river. In 2015 the same stuff on the bottom of the river is considered hazardous waste. Bored tunnels are cheaper. The stuff they dig up isn’t hazardous waste and it doesn’t pollute the river.

Nyland8 August 12, 2015 - 11:39 pm

May Chris Christie’s soul dwell in a purgatory of loud train whistles for squashing the ARC project.

LLQBTT August 13, 2015 - 9:44 am

In addition to the NewNewNewNew York Bridge, Gov. Cuomo is building us the New Kosciuszko Bridge:



Jim August 19, 2015 - 7:18 am

It’s not his tunnel, so we need to make it his tunnel. The solution to this problem is simple: name the old tunnels. Call one of them “Andy” and the other one “Christie.” Then reporters can say, “There were massive delays today because Andy was all blocked up…”


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