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Feds Seek Meeting With Christie, Cuomo Over Hudson River Rail Tunnels

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The U.S. transportation secretary wants to meet with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss stalled plans for new Hudson River rail tunnels.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter Monday to the two governors urging them to meet with him in the next two weeks to put together a strategy for building new crossings.

Christie said he expects to meet with Foxx and Cuomo in the next few weeks. He talked about the issue in New Hampshire where he is campaigning for the Republican nomination for president.

Christie said he had spoken to Cuomo on Monday night and that the two were trying to coordinate their schedules.

``We'll work it out,'' he said.

Cuomo said in an email statement Tuesday that he hoped the federal government could help with funding.

``The tunnel is a crucially important project for the region, but also a very expensive one without a funding stream,'' the New York governor said. ``I'm hopeful the federal government is willing to step up to the plate….''

John J. Degnan, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, noted in a letter Tuesday to Foxx that estimates for Amtrak's proposed high-speed rail corridor in the Northeast, which includes new tunnels, have hit $14 billion while the federal government has capped its commitment at $3 billion.

He said the authority would need to know going forward whether the federal government could provide adequate funding for new tunnels and would be willing to expedite an environmental review.

The letters came after a series of recent train delays for NJ TRANSIT riders.

Those delays continued Tuesday when an Amtrak train became disabled. NJ TRANSIT trains in and out of New York's Penn Station were forced to use a single track.

"The communication was limited. In fact, I found out the problem with the train from Twitter, not from Amtrak staff aboard the train," passenger Mellisa Murphy told 1010 WINS.

Murphy said they were stuck for about an hour, but had full power for most of that time.

"We had full power except for about five minutes; the lights went out and the emergency lighting came on and the air conditioning stopped," she said. "Everyone was so calm. I think it's because no one ever felt like our safety was an issue. They might have been frustrated or irritated like I was, but they were acting calm."

Many commuters say new tunnels are needed.

Feds Seek Meeting With Christie, Cuomo Over Hudson River Rail Tunnels

"Absolutely, the way the tunnels are running right now, it's not working," one NJ TRANSIT rider told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "They've got to get rid of them, and they've got to get something new."

Foxx is requesting the governors discuss their states' roles in a proposal to build new tunnels. The proposal is known as the Gateway Project.

Foxx said the Obama administration is willing to explore federal financial assistance for the project with the states' backing.

Feds Seek Meeting With Christie, Cuomo Over Hudson River Rail Tunnels

At Monday's LaGuardia Airport overhaul announcement, Vice President Joe Biden, a big supporter of Amtrak, led his comments with the need for a new tunnel, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported. Amtrak owns the tracks and equipment along the Northeast Corridor line from New Jersey into New York that are used by NJ TRANSIT commuter trains.

"I'd ask Gov. Christie to come back and talk about it, but that's another issue for another day," Biden said.

Christie canceled a tunnel project in 2010 over concerns that New Jersey would be responsible for cost overruns. He said last week if he's elected president he'll get a new tunnel built if both states and the federal government are equal partners.

Cuomo's office didn't respond to requests for comment.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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