Advocates for the $11.6 billion Gateway Tunnel should be concerned by what New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said about Gateway this past Friday at an event concerning progress for the NYMTA Long Island Rail Road $11.2 billion East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal project. This was in response to a question from a reporter about Gateway. Cuomo said “Who’s coming through the new Gateway? It’s Amtrak, it’s Amtrak, and a few New Jersey Transit trains. Why should New York have paid for Gateway? I don’t have any trains going through Gateway.”
Has Cuomo ever ridden a New Jersey train? A majority of trains using the current Hudson River and future Gateway Tunnels are operated by NJ Transit, not Amtrak.
His claim that NY obtains no benefit from Gateway is incorrect. Many Metro North Port Jervis and Pascack Valley line riders change at Secaucus for NJ Transit trains bound for Penn Station via the Hudson River Tunnels.
Thousands of New Yorkers are reverse commuters, traveling to jobs, entertainment or sporting events in New Jersey.
Cuomo’s words imply that he may not pony up his 25 percent or $2.9 billion share toward the $11.6 billion cost. NY’s share is needed to leverage $5.8 funding from the Federal Transit & Federal Rail Road Administrations. Without his financial contribution, the project will not proceed.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit and over 30 other transportation agencies in NY & NJ.).