So far, the first phase of the tunnel box project has been completed. The boxes run under the eastern half of the Hudson Yards development up to 11th Ave. With the developers eager to begin work on the western portion of Hudson Yards, the clock is ticking to move ahead on the second phase of the tunnel boxes, which would extend to 30th St. to the south and to 12th Ave. to the west.

It is a gamble, but relatively small in relation to estimates that run as high as $14 billion for the Gateway project, which is what makes it such a political lightening rod.

Earlier in August, Cuomo turned down a request to meet with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Cuomo sees the need for Gateway but does not see why New York should bear the cost of a project that involves tunnels owned by Amtrak and used by both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. Cuomo went even further, saying what is needed is not federal loans but an outright federal grant.

Schumer’s proposal comes amidst this impasse for a project that many transportation experts see as crucial for rail traffic in New York and the Northeast.

“There are a lot of details still to be worked out, but we support the concept of what Senator Schumer has proposed,” Dan Schned, senior planner for the Regional Plan Association, said. “Creating a new entity with a singular purpose and mission – to advance this vital project – that can aggregate funding from all the necessary sources is what is needed.”

Schumer’s Gateway Authority proposal would create a single entity through which a variety of funding sources could flow. In addition to Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, as well as the City of New York all have stakes in the Gateway project. In addition, Schumer, addressing Cuomo and Christie’s concerns, said the new entity would rely as much as possible on federal funding.

Those are important considerations, given the scope of the project and the variety of entities and political allegiances that would have an interest in the project’s outcome.