President Donald Trump seemed positive about Amtrak's massive Gateway project but made no commitments during a nearly hourlong meeting with members of Congress and the governors of New Jersey and New York on Thursday, attendees said. The White House said in a statement afterward the president appreciated a chance to hear details about the program.
"The expense of the program, which approaches $30 billion, will require a strong partnership to deliver these nine projects in a cost-effective manner by streamlining the permitting process, using innovative procurement techniques, and being creative in the funding and financing," the statement said. Trump specifically asked about the "design-build" process New York used in replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge, which expedited construction by not having separate bids for designing the process and then building it.
"I'm optimistic this is going to move forward. It has to," said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-Wyckoff. Govs. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo laid out the scope of the project, which eventually would involve having two extra tracks between Newark and New York City and expanded capacity in Penn Station, according to Rep. Albio Sires, D-West New York.
Trump "certainly seemed willing to try to help and get these projects going," Sires said. "He said he would do everything he could, just short of a 'yes' commitment." Striking a more skeptical tone was Sen. Cory Booker, D-Newark. "President Trump has made plenty of promises on infrastructure which so far have fallen flat," Booker said in a statement. "It’s time for him to step up and commit to real investment in Gateway in order to strengthen our region’s surface transportation networks, bolster our economy, and boost job creation."