How Trump’s Hudson Tunnel snit threatens the national economy

A rail-improvement plan called Gateway has as its centerpiece a new tunnel. The tube could double capacity along a 10-mile stretch of the Northeast Corridor between Newark, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, the busiest station in America. Right now, that area of track induces daily headaches for 200,000 Amtrak and NJ Transit passengers. A 113-year-old swing bridge refuses to open and close properly, overhead power lines fail, backed-up trains idle at the tunnel’s entrance. But the new tunnel has been mired in politics for years, most recently when Trump pulled away support from a cost-sharing agreement. Last week, he is said to have told congressional leaders not to fund it as retaliation for Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s opposition to his nominees.

“We don’t build this, and these tunnels fail, the whole economy will collapse,” Schumer, who like Trump is from New York, told transportation planners in December 2016. “There will be a deep recession in the New York metropolitan area and a recession probably in the whole country.”

We had this mess figured out, and blew it—twice. Congress was set to spend $8.7 billion on a second crossing until Governor Chris Christie, worried about cost overruns, declared, “I cannot put New Jersey taxpayers on a never-ending hook,” and killed it. Five years later, President Barack Obama stepped up with a federal and state cost split for a Plan B, Amtrak’s Gateway tunnel.