Rare access to train tunnel shows crumbling infrastructure

Infrastructure headaches

NEW YORK -- It's going to take a lot of tax money, not less, to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure -- another 100 days promise in the Trump campaign contract with voters.

In the past month, two derailments and two power failures around New York's Penn Station left rail passengers stranded for hours. 

"We just had a derailment, they should get it together!" one commuter told CBS New York.   

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In a one-month period, there were two derailments and two power failures around New York's Penn Station that left passengers stranded for hours.  CBS News

Amtrak, which owns the tracks, blames massive underfunding for repairs.  

Part of the problem can be found beneath the Hudson River, inside a train tunnel more than 105 years old. CBS News obtained rare access to see the tunnel's crumbling walls and leaking water, which shorts out power. Flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 likely made it worse.

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CBS News gained rare access to the 105-year-old tunnel underneath the Hudson River. CBS News

"One more major event like Hurricane Sandy, it could take one of those tunnels out of service," says New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. "And if one of those tunnels is out of service, that means hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact to this region, and it will create a traffic Armageddon like we have never experienced before."

That cost could be $100 million a day, a figure that worries CEOs like Deanna Mulligan of Guardian Life Insurance, which could lose $40,000 an hour.
 
"New York as a global financial capital generates a lot of income for the entire country in the form of income taxes, so it really is important to the country," Mulligan says. 

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Amtrak has proposed a $20 billion solution to fix the tracks and build a new tunnel under the Hudson River.  CBS News

Amtrak has proposed a solution to fix the tracks and build a new tunnel under the Hudson River. But it would cost over $20 billion.  New York and New Jersey have offered to pay half the cost if the federal government pays for the rest, a proposal now being considered by the Trump administration.

  • Elaine Quijano
    Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.