- The Federal Railroad Administration announced $16.4 billion today for 25 passenger rail projects along the Boston-New York City-Washington, D.C. route known as the Northeast Corridor.
- The funding will make the nation’s “busiest passenger railroad safer, faster, and more reliable, which means fewer delays and shorter commutes for the 800,000 passengers who rely on the Northeast Corridor every day,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement.
- The designated projects include the Hudson River Tunnel construction and renovation program, which carries trains to and from Manhattan, as well as construction of a new tunnel in Baltimore to replace a 150-year old tunnel that is a bottleneck for Amtrak intercity trains and Maryland commuter trains.
The Northeast Corridor is “one of the highest volume passenger rail corridors in the world and the busiest in the United States,” according to the FRA. But many of its tunnels and bridges are more than a century old, and critical safety and electric power systems date to the 1930s or earlier.
To support the management of these and other projects outside the NEC, Amtrak is doubling the size of its capital delivery team and plans to triple its annual investment in infrastructure by 2025. Today’s FRA investment “will help ensure essential rail corridors like the Northeast Corridor are modern, safe, and convenient, giving Americans access to world-class passenger service,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose in a statement.
The funds were awarded under the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program, which was established by the 2021 infrastructure law.
But a fight is brewing in Congress over Amtrak funding. While some House Republicans support Amtrak’s investments along the Northeast Corridor, others are looking to cut the railroad’s 2024 fiscal year appropriation by 64% from 2023 levels, Roll Call reports. The Senate has already passed a $2.5 billion appropriations bill for Amtrak, well above the proposed House level of $876 million.
Work on the Hudson Tunnel project officially kicked off on Friday. “The start of construction in New York for the Hudson Tunnel Project signifies something different than all previous milestones – that our vision for new, state-of-the-art infrastructure is no longer just a vision; it’s becoming reality,” said Amtrak Board Chair and Gateway Development Commission Vice Chair Tony Coscia in a statement.
Other projects receiving funds announced today include replacements for the Susquehanna River Bridge in Maryland and the Connecticut River Bridge that serves passenger and freight trains. Both bridges are more than 100 years old. Each state will provide matching funds for their respective projects.