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Officials: Trump Budget Cuts Would Leave 'Gaping Hole' In Gateway Project Funding

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There are concerns that budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump could endanger a major Tri-State project which would add rail tunnels under the Hudson River.

New Jersey legislators and Port Authority officials gathered together Wednesday to urge Congress to preserve the Gateway Project's financial lifeline.

"The cutback in funding for Gateway, by a president who is a native New Yorker, is mystifying," Len Resto, of the Association of Railroad Passengers of New Jersey, said.

The $20 billion project rebuilds the portal bridge over the Hackensack River and adds two tunnels under the Hudson, allowing Amtrak to repair the existing tunnels damaged by Superstorm Sandy, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

In 2015, federal officials and Amtrak said they would be responsible for financing half of the project, while New York and New Jersey covered the rest.

"We are playing, pardon the pun, "Russian Roulette" with the current over 100-year-old tunnels which are literally one flood away from having to be shut down," Resto said.

Supporters of the Gateway Project warned that if the tunnels were to shut down, it could pose major problems for the regional and national economy. 

"If these tunnels go down, 65,000 people would have to find some way to get to work," Sen. Bob Gordon said.

Senators from both New York and New Jersey have vowed to push back on Trump's budget proposal, which still faces congressional approval.

Trump's proposal seeks to upend Washington with cuts to long-promised campaign targets like foreign aid and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as strong congressional favorites such as medical research, help for homeless veterans and community development grants.

Law enforcement agencies like the FBI would be spared, while the border wall would receive an immediate $1.4 billion infusion in the ongoing fiscal year, with another $2.6 billion planned for the 2018 budget year starting Oct. 1.

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