- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday he expects to meet with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and federal transportation officials in the next few weeks to discuss plans for new Hudson River rail tunnels, on the heels of a string of delays that have highlighted the region’s aging and unreliable rail infrastructure.

Christie made the comments in New Hampshire where he is campaigning for the Republican nomination for president. They came a day after federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrote to Christie and Cuomo after trains were delayed into Manhattan on five out of six weekdays.

Christie said he had spoken to Cuomo on Monday night and that the two were trying to coordinate their schedules.

“We’ll work it out,” he said.

Cuomo said in an email statement Tuesday that he hoped the federal government could help with funding.

“The tunnel is a crucially important project for the region, but also a very expensive one without a funding stream,” the New York governor said. “I’m hopeful the federal government is willing to step up to the plate ….”

John J. Degnan, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, noted in a letter Tuesday to Foxx that estimates for Amtrak’s proposed high-speed rail corridor in the Northeast, which includes new tunnels, have hit $14 billion while the federal government has capped its commitment at $3 billion.

He said the authority would need to know going forward whether the federal government could provide adequate funding for new tunnels and would be willing to expedite an environmental review.

Electrical problems or disabled trains in the tunnels caused delays for New Jersey commuters four days last week and again Monday. Amtrak service up and down the Northeast corridor also was affected.

Amtrak owns most of the tracks and equipment, most of which is several decades old. The tunnels under the Hudson River were built more than a century ago and the power cables are 80 years old, Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said Friday.

Boardman said last year that Amtrak would have to close one of the two existing tunnels within the next 20 years to fix damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Christie canceled a tunnel project in 2010 over concerns that New Jersey would be responsible for cost overruns. He said last week if he’s elected president he’ll get a new tunnel built if both states and the federal government are equal partners.

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