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Will Bredderman

Published: January 3, 2018 – 2:57 pm

Leaders from the city’s top construction trade group will head to Washington, D.C., early this year in an attempt to salvage the troubled Gateway tunnel project.

Carlo Scissura, president of the New York Building Congress, will lead a delegation of industry CEOs in late February or early March to urge President Donald Trump’s administration and congressional leadership to include the program in an anticipated federal infrastructure package. At the core of Gateway is a new tube for Amtrak and NJ Transit trains into Manhattan, which will allow for refurbishments to the existing century-old, Hurricane Sandy–damaged shaft.

In an interview with Crain’s, Scissura noted that the conduit into Manhattan is a vital link along Amtrak’s heavily trafficked Northeast Corridor, and pushed back on the Trump administration’s recent characterization of the undertaking as a “local project.”

“If Gateway crumbles, 20% of our nation’s gross domestic product is impacted. So this is a national infrastructure issue,” Scissura said. “The NYBC has Gateway as its number one priority.”

In 2015, now–Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker brokered a deal among the Obama administration, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Garden State Gov. Chris Christie to split Gateway’s multibillion-dollar price tag evenly between the states and the federal government. But Trump’s Department of Transportation threw the project into suspense at the end of last year, declaring the 50-50 agreement “nonexistent” in a Dec. 29 letter to the two governors.

Weeks previous, the USDOT slapped down a New York–New Jersey proposal to underwrite the local share with a federal loan that the state governments would repay. The agency asserted that the request effectively asked Washington to pay for the overwhelming bulk of the project, a claim that stunned observers.

But Scissura said he was sure that both the president and Republican leaders from the South and Midwest recognized the importance of the project to the national economy.

“Trump is from New York. He was elected on a platform of rebuilding the country’s infrastructure,” said Scissura. “He knows this project very well.”

The trade group head also seemed confident that Schumer, Booker, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and other Democrats would hand the Trump administration a political victory on infrastructure in an election year in exchange for seeing Gateway funded.

“It will be a victory to everybody in New York and New Jersey. And you will have four Democratic Senators who will have part of that victory,” said Scissura, a veteran of New York City politics. “I think this is all part of a bigger-picture discussion about what is agreed to, what is traded.”

Published on

Jan 9, 2018 by New York Building Congress