Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced major funding for an infrastructure project that will better connect New York and New Jersey by rail.
The Hudson Tunnel Project will get $292 million in partial federal funding for one of the first elements of the project: the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3, which will as its name suggests, finish off the concrete casings from Penn Station to the edge of the Hudson River that will preserve a future right-of-way for rail tunnels beneath the Hudson. The casings need to be built now because otherwise the foundations from Hudson Yards construction will likely block the path and hamper this first phase of the project, estimated to cost $649 million. Currently, the North River Tunnel, which is over 100 years old, remains the only passenger rail tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York. In 2012 severe flooding from Superstorm Sandy damaged the tracks and structure.
The money for the proposed second railway line was allocated as part of the National Infrastructure Project Assistance discretionary grant program (Mega) part of the infrastructure law.
“We are energetic and enthusiastic partners on this project,” U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg told Gothamist. “I can just tell you here at US DOT, from the secretary on down, we are very engaged in working with the two states, with Amtrak, with the Port Authority to do everything we can to get through all the steps that are needed to access federal funds, all the approvals that are needed on the federal level.”
Overall, the Hudson Tunnel Project is projected to cost more than $16 billion. One of its goals is to improve service between NJ Transit and Amtrak, a move that will shorten commutes, improve Amtrak’s reliability, and boost the regional economy overall.
The Hudson Tunnel Project is nested into an even larger one. The Gateway Program aims to add rail capacity between Newark, New Jersey and New York City via a number of planned and underway projects. A press release shared by the White House stated that this Mega grant announcement is one of several funding rounds slated for the project this year and it is also “the most significant federal funding for the Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project to date.” Funding and progress on The Gateway Program was halted during the Trump administration, while President Biden indicated early on in his run for presidency that this would be a project he would green light.
Yesterday’s annocument also included funding for several other infrastructure and transportation-related projects across the country, including the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio, replacement of the Calcasieu River Bridge in Louisiana, in addition to other highway and railroad improvements.