President Trump and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo met at the White House last week to discuss the state’s infrastructure, but no key policy announcements followed that are likely to make a true impact.
The ambitious Gateway project took center stage in the discussions and Cuomo stressed that it needs private sector dollars. Both the president and governor agree that government construction contracts are unlikely to build the federal-owned tunnel between New York and New Jersey.
Cuomo also said that the private sector must bid for it “internationally”. This seems contrary to the federal administration’s policy of employing local technology and local companies, so there remains a danger that this could prove to be something of a roadblock.
The Gateway Program as a whole consists of numerous rail infrastructure improvement projects between Newark and Penn Station New York. It focuses on a 10-mile segment of the Northeast Corridor, and includes a program of projects that would replace and update rail infrastructure assets that, in many cases, are over 100 years old. It also plans to increase track, tunnel, bridge and station capacity.
It seems that both Cuomo and Trump agreed that Amtrak would not be best placed to deliver much of the program, but beyond that, there are a lot of details to be ironed out.
For a start, there still remains a huge gap in the required federal funds to build the project but it is no doubt the centerpiece of the governor’s infrastructure agenda.
But tunnels are not the only aging infrastructure piece in New York City, which also serves as the financial center for the country. There is no denying that New York’s airports need help.
While La Guardia is getting a facelift from the ongoing P3 project at its terminal, JFK and the neighboring Newark airport in New Jersey have dated terminals and antiquated infrastructure.
Cuomo will need to put his dollars behind his words and not just for the Gateway project.
To do that, one would expect that both he and Trump will need to work closely. On the face of it, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Trump, after all, is proud of his New York heritage so it would be no surprise to see him backing plans to improve its infrastructure.
However, a quick glance at Cuomo’s Twitter page hints at the difficulties. Pinned to the top of his feed is a tweet that says, bluntly, America is great “because it reject’s [Trump’s] hate-filled agenda of bigotry and sexism.
“NY’ers have your number @realDonaldTrump & will fight you all day.”
Given Trump’s favorite mode of communication is Twitter, it seems unlikely the president would not have seen this.