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New York City's Highest Profile Transit Projects at Risk Despite Trump Assurances

Planning and construction for the new Amtrak Gateway tunnels unders the Hudson River and the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway could grind to a halt under President Trump's proposed budget that substantially cuts capital grants programs.
April 6, 2017, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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In response to a question from Jerry Speyer, chairman of the New York real estate firm, Tishman Speyer, during a business leaders CEO Town Hall in Washington on Tuesday morning,  President Trump, a New York City developer himself, assured him and the people of New York City "that they are in good hands." [See video clip]. 

That assurance may come as a surprise to elected leaders and transit planners in the New York metro region who are concerned about the 13 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Transportation in Trump's FY 2018 budget, released March 16, particularly to the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant Program that includes New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity Improvements

Emma G. Fitzsimmons, transit reporter for The New York Times, reports on the effect that Trump's budget would have on the $20 billion Amtrak Gateway tunnels under the Hudson River and for the next phase of the new Second Avenue subway, estimated at $6 billion.

“This is a dagger to the heart of the Gateway project that is so vital to our economy,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, a vocal critic of Mr. Trump on many issues, said in an interview.

Mr. Schumer, a Democrat and the Senate minority leader, said he would fight the cuts to New Starts, a program that has benefited large cities with ambitious projects.

"Only projects that are already locked in with formal federal commitments, known as 'full funding grant agreements,' would get money," reported Michael Laris for The Washington Post last month. A list of those projects compiled by transit commentator Yonah Freemark was posted last month. The Federal Transit Administration also lists projects throughout the country relying on capital investment grants.

"Mr. Trump’s budget suggested that new transit projects should rely on local financing — a major shift in how such projects have been financed in recent decades," adds Fitzsimmons. "Still, it is early in the budget process, and Congress will weigh in on the cuts in the coming months."
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Published on Monday, April 3, 2017 in The New York Times
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