Trump ‘hissy fit’ spells doom for our tunnel | Editorial

Posted May 24, 2019

Perhaps you heard about President Trump’s latest tantrum, roundly mocked by late night comedians and anyone familiar with the phrase “Infrastructure Week.”

The White House schedules a week to make a bipartisan deal to fix the nation’s bridges, roads and tunnels – Trump’s most popular campaign promise. Then it gets blown up, over and over. It’s become the punchline for every policy goal that Trump inevitably torpedoes.

But what’s at stake is no joke: The extremely stable genius is holding a gun to our regional economy. Unless Congress ignores his felonious behavior and drops all investigations, nothing else will get done – chief among these projects, our tunnel into Manhattan.

It’s blackmail, pure and simple. And we’re the ones being held hostage, strapped to the infrastructural equivalent of a ticking time bomb, as negotiators call on Trump’s family to try and talk him down.

We can’t close and fix the decaying tunnel that has been in operation since 1908 without first building a replacement. And even if we could start construction on that new tunnel right now, it would still take close to a decade, at best, to finish.

Congress recognizes this, and has devised workarounds in its appropriations bills to get Gateway funding started, but the Trump Administration continues to create obstacles for the country’s most urgent infrastructure project.

In the meantime, salts and chlorides left behind from the 13 million gallons of water that flooded the tunnel during Hurricane Sandy continue to coat the walls, eating away at the concrete.

If just one of the tunnel’s two tracks has to be shut down and fixed before the new tunnel is built, it would cut off 75 percent of commuter traffic. We’d go from 24 crammed trains an hour to only six. Every day would be rush hour roulette, in which 200,000 commuters are delayed. A transit hellscape.

Imagine being 40 minutes late every day – each way. Yet Trump’s chief concern is not improving lives, protecting the economic health of the entire Northeast, or creating jobs. He’s engaged in a coverup — of his shady finances and dealings, of his failure to secure financing for the kind of sweeping infrastructure updates he promised, or both.

“I think they can’t figure out a way to do infrastructure, and they came up with a very inelegant way to get out of it,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said, after Trump stormed out of a meeting with top Democrats on Wednesday.

The president was unable to rally Republican support for his professed $2 trillion infrastructure plan. And meanwhile, he has blocked every request made by investigators, arguing that Congress should just drop all of its oversight power and give him his way.

Congress should stop acting like Congress – and if it doesn’t, he fumes, the price will be our tunnel. As he stomps his feet, orders aides to vouch for his exceptional calmness and tweets about “Crazy Nancy,” the clock is ticking.

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