Cuomo meets with Trump to discuss new train tunnel

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Federal funding for a new rail tunnel below the Hudson River was the topic of a lunch President Donald Trump had Wednesday with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The two were joined by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley says the officials discussed various topics focusing on infrastructure.

Trump's administration has disagreed with officials in New York and New Jersey over a plan to fund the tunnel project. The century-old Amtrak tunnel needs extensive renovations to ensure reliable rail travel throughout the entire northeast.

The meeting comes as officials in New Jersey and New York express growing worries about the dilapidated, century-old tunnel owned by Amtrak that connects the two states. Experts have long said a new tunnel is needed to relieve congestion and prevent big problems at one of the most important transportation choke points in the nation.

Last month, Cuomo toured the existing tunnel and sent video footage to Trump that showed water dripping down the tunnel walls, broken electrical cables and disintegrating concrete.

Under an agreement reached with the Obama administration, New York and New Jersey agreed to pick up half the cost of the new tunnel, estimated to be $13 billion. But the Trump administration nixed that deal earlier this year, with Chao saying the two states need to pay more of the cost of the proposal known as the Gateway Project.

"They are two of the richest states in the country," Chao said in March. "If they absorb all these funds, there will be no other funds for the rest of the country."

The two-tube tunnel provides the only link under the Hudson for New Jersey Transit commuter trains and Amtrak trains traveling the Northeast Corridor. It suffered saltwater damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that is eating away at walls housing copper cables and electrical wires.

Amtrak, which owns the tunnels, has estimated one or both of the tunnel tubes could fail in the next 10 to 15 years. Cuomo estimates the new tunnel would take about seven years to build.

Trump's administration has clashed with officials in New York and New Jersey over a funding plan for the tunnel project. The existing tunnel is a century old and in need of extensive renovations. Experts say a new tunnel is essential to ensuring reliable rail travel throughout the entire Northeast.