NEW YORK CITY—While lawmakers in Washington, DC were focused on trying to repeal Obamacare yesterday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was focused on another top priority of the Trump administration—infrastructure.
Gov. Cuomo made a host of infrastructure related announcements on Thursday, including a plea to President Donald Trump to fulfill the federal government’s commitment to fund its share of the more than $20-billion Gateway Project and a prediction that the first of two spans of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, now named after his late father, will open for traffic on Aug. 25.
Appearing at a breakfast meeting of the Association for a Better New York, the governor called on the Trump administration to fund its share of the Gateway project that includes the repair and construction of underwater Hudson River train tunnels damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
“New York State has stepped up and we have committed $5 billion to Gateway and I am proud of it and I think it is a fair investment for the state to make,” Gov. Cuomo said. “But we need President Trump to fulfill the federal commitment to make Gateway a reality.”
The governor’s comments came after recent signs from the federal government that have some proponents of the Gateway project concerned about the federal government’s financial commitment to the project. President Trump has proposed a $1-trillion infrastructure plan that includes a significant private sector investment, however the proposal has taken a back seat to health care and tax reform.
Gov. Cuomo praised Trump’s focus on infrastructure during the Presidential campaign and in the early days of his administration. “Remember the $1 trillion infrastructure proposal that he spoke about? $1 trillion, where is it? What happened to it? It was the single best idea that I heard come from his campaign and now it’s disappeared.” He later added that the Gateway Project is too important to lose and that the project cannot move forward without federal participation. “It’s a very simple concept. You have an old tunnel that is damaged that will collapse at one point and when it collapses you’ll see a collapse of the Northeast economy,” he warned.
Other infrastructure-related pronouncements by the governor included reporting that the first span of the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will open on August 25th, when westbound traffic will begin moving onto the first span. The new bridge he said is on track to open in 2018 and is on budget at $3.98 billion.
“The opening of the first span of the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge next month is a clear message that after decades of stagnation, New York is building our transportation infrastructure better, safer and more efficiently than ever,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This major milestone in the project to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge will be the first step in alleviating congestion for commuters while offering a state-of-the-art link over the Hudson River, built to last for generations to come.”
The governor also announced the Federal Aviation Administration approved the $4-billion, 37-gate Delta facility at LaGuardia Airport, and the US Department of Transportation approved a more than $537.1 million loan for the Moynihan Train Hall Redevelopment project. He also said that cashless tolling would be complete on all MTA bridges and tunnels by the end of 2017.
He added that Public Service Commission chair John Rhodes is demanding Con Edison take significant and immediate actions to improve the subway’s reliability and prevent future service failures. The action follows the PSC and MTA’s investigation into Con Edison’s equipment failure that led to significant delays across the subway system. As the investigation continues, PSC’s Chair, John Rhodes declared that Con Edison must analyze existing equipment failures, perform thorough and regular inspections and dedicate additional personnel and equipment to improve service. Con Edison must dedicate and assign a Crisis Response Team for the subway system and track performance through monthly reports to the PSC.
Cuomo also unveiled what he termed as “first-of-its-kind public-private Subway Partnership Program” in New York, in which private corporations will invest in a fund to support the New York City subway system and work closely with the MTA on issues affecting commuters.
Similar to businesses lending their support parks and historic sites through conservancies, companies participating in the Subway Partnership Program will help to further transform stations and create a better commuter experience in New York’s subway stations, state officials noted. A minimum commitment of $250,000 to the Subway Partnership Sponsors Council will be required to join the partnership.
To facilitate the program, an executive director reporting directly to the MTA Chairman and to the Subway Partnership Sponsors Council will be appointed. The council, representing contributors to the partnership, will develop private-sector solutions to problems facing the system, specifically related to the rider experience, including innovative staffing, technology, and communications practices. This will also include volunteer advisory opportunities for sponsor employees.
The first partners in the Subway Partnership Program are: BlackRock, Inc., Blackstone, the Estée Lauder Companies, MasterCard, Hearst, Partnership for New York City and Rudin Management Co., Inc.