Calls on President Trump and Federal Government to Stop Playing Politics and Fund the Gateway Tunnel Project, the Most Important Infrastructure Project in the Country
Governor Cuomo: "You have a level of damage that is possible to interrupt service for days and if you lose service of one of these tunnels for one, two or three days you're talking about a devastating impact on the whole Northeast Corridor."
Last night, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo toured the Gateway Tunnel to expose corrosion and damage, calling on President Trump and Washington to stop playing politics and fund their share of the repairs. DuringSuperstorm Sandy, both tubes in the North River Tunnel were inundated with seawater, causing falling concrete, corroded electrical cabling and standing water damage. The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy has been compounded by the tunnel's age and the intensity of its current use.
AUDIO of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good evening, thank you all for coming out this evening. Where else would you want to be at 11:00 at night? About to enter the tunnel. Everybody knows Rick Cotton who is to my right, the Executive Director of the Port Authority. The Port Authority has a subsidiary that is managing the early stages of the development of the Gateway Tunnel project. It's a pleasure to be with Ray Sandiford from HNTB and Mike Traina who is the Deputy Division Director for Amtrak.
Obviously, we've asked you to come out at this time to take a look at the tunnel because this is the least disruptive period for the tunnels, which are in action. We didn't want to have any disruption for the service. The Gateway project has been talked about for many years. The tunnels themselves are referred to as the North River Tunnels. Many infrastructure projects that we're doing now are to improve the situation. We're doing the John F. Kennedy Airport to make a better airport. LaGuardia Airport to make it a better airport. This project is just to maintain functionality. Replacing the tunnel doesn't improve service dramatically. This is just basic functionality of the infrastructure. And it is a major concern and it is a growing concern.
Where we are now is there was no specific agreed to plan with the federal government to actually repair the tunnels. The tunnels are over 100 years old, you will hear from Rick Cotton. The way they were built, these tunnels, was basically built in cast iron tubes that are laid on the river bed and over time sink into the silt of the river bed, but they are not deep tunnels—maybe about 20 feet in the silt of the river bed. So, the water intrusion is an ongoing issue.
These are also tunnels that were damaged significantly by Hurricane Sandy. And people think that a tunnel can fill with salt water and then you pump out the salt water and everything's fine—that's not actually the case. Much of the residue remains and continues to do damage. So, the tunnel has a number of structural issues and they are only going to get worse—they are not going to get better. From the time we say go on the project, it will be multiple years before we can actually get it done. By the time we do the environmental impact statement and all the planning and the bidding, et cetera. So, there's a long lead-time to actually do the reconstruction and that's why time is of the essence.
We've been talking about it in the abstract; we thought it would be good if people actually saw the tunnel, saw what we're talking about so you have a deeper appreciation of it. We're going to be taking a videotape of much of what you see today. We'll be putting that video together and I'm going to be sending it to President Trump just so the President has a visual understanding of the serious deterioration of the tunnels. With that, I will turn it over to Mr. Rick Cotton. Thank you.