- The Hudson River Tunnel project received federal approval to begin the engineering phase and an up to $6.88 billion funding commitment from the Federal Transit Administration, the Biden administration announced Thursday — key steps forward for the long-delayed Gateway Program, designed to improve rail connections between New York City and New Jersey.
- The tunnel project will build a new two-track tunnel and rehabilitate the existing 113-year-old North River Tunnel, which carries Amtrak intercity passenger trains and New Jersey Transit commuter trains. That tunnel was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
- With the approval and funding commitment, the Gateway Development Commission — the public authority charged with overseeing the project — said it could begin early construction work this year.
Every weekday, some 400 trains carrying over 200,000 passengers move through the North River Tunnel to and from Penn Station in Manhattan, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. It’s a critical link for Amtrak, as all Northeast Corridor trains between New York City and Washington, D.C., pass through the tunnel.
“Research demonstrates that once this project is completed, demand for this service will surpass pre-COVID levels of ridership,” said Build Gateway Now Campaign Manager Brian Fritsch in an email statement. The campaign is a coalition of civic, labor and business leaders.
“Gateway is the most consequential infrastructure project in all of America,” said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, making the announcement at a press conference Thursday in Manhattan. “If the tunnels that cross the Hudson collapse or are unusable, our whole economy goes into turmoil.”
The effort to repair and add to the existing infrastructure has been a political football for more than 20 years, including bitter disagreements between then-Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York and Trump administration efforts to renege on an Obama administration federal funding commitment. But Congress and the Biden administration set aside $66 billion for freight and passenger rail in the 2021 infrastructure law, and the president — a vocal supporter of the Hudson River Tunnel project — has worked to quickly move it forward.
“We are thrilled to be even closer to the start of major construction on this critical Gateway Program project,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery, Laura Mason in a statement.
According to the Gateway Development Commission, Thursday’s announcement “clears the way for the Hudson Tunnel Project to receive the vast majority of the Federal funding needed for full construction.” Total cost of the project is approximately $17.18 billion, according to the DOT, with additional federal grants expected.
The newly announced funding is subject to annual Congressional appropriation and the completion of all financial, technical and legal requirements.
The administration said the project would create more than 72,000 jobs in the region.