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Chao working to get Gateway back on track

US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao told a group of New York executives she wants to work out a solution to the Gateway project deadlock.

New York Building Congress president Carlo Scissura led a group that included STV Group president Milo Riverso, Richard Cavallaro, CEO of Skanska, AECOM’s Chris Ward and Greg Kelly, of president WSP, to lobby Washington last week to support the multi-billion dollar plan to build a new Hudson River tunnel.

Elaine Chao

The visit came after President Donald Trump reportedly threatened to block $900 million in earmarked federal funds for the project.

During a March 6 congressional hearing, Secretary Chao confirmed that the president was intervening in Gateway’s progress, telling the hearing, “The president is concerned about the viability of this project and the fact that New York and New Jersey have no skin in the game.”

However, Scissura said that during a meeting with Chao and members of Trump’s infrastructure team last week, Chao acknowledged the importance of the project and “wants to work out a solution.”

“I think everyone knows the importance of Gateway,” Scissura said. “It’s just a matter of cutting through the noise and rhetoric and getting it done.”

During the two-day visit to DC, the New York group also met with New York and New Jersey representatives including Senators Chuck Schumer and Cory Booker and Congress members Peter King and Dan Donovan, all of whom have already shown support for Gateway. The group also met with Republican Senator Jim Imhofe of Oklahoma and Congresssmember Mario Diaz-Balart, who both expressed the importance of bipartisan legislation on infrastructure.

Scissura said they will continue to reach out to other Republican politicians, particularly from the affected Northeast corridor, to try to garner more support.

“There are some people in Washington who like the message that it’s a New York, New Jersey project,” Scissura said. “It’s not even a regional project, It’s a national project. 20 percent of the nation’s GDP is from the northeast corridor, 10 percent is in the New York Region.

“I think we all need to be focused on delivering this project. Our mission there was to talk to people who are going to make decisions and convince them why it’s important to spend money on infrastructure in New York.”

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