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New York receives $6.8 billion for tunnel project

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(The Center Square) — New York is getting nearly $6.9 billion in federal funding to help build a long delayed second tunnel beneath the Hudson River in what state leaders say is the largest transportation grant in U.S. history.

The grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants program will allow the engineering phase of the long-delayed project to move ahead, according to the Gateway Commission, which was created to lead infrastructure projects between New York and New Jersey along the Northeast Corridor rail line.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, who first announced the funding, said the massive project is “moving full steam ahead” after “many false starts and obstacles” over the years.

“Gateway’s future is assured and the most important public works project in America is all systems go,” Schumer said in a statement.

The $16.6 billion project, years in the making, calls for renovating the 1910 tunnel that carries about 200,000-weekday passengers beneath the Hudson between New Jersey and Manhattan on Amtrak and NJ Transit.

The renovations are expected to double the capacity of the Northeast Corridor train line between Newark and New York City — which state and federal officials say will improve rail mobility from Washington, D.C. to Boston and other destinations.

New York and New Jersey agreed last year to split the local share of the cost of building the tunnel, a move that was required to apply for federal funding.

A portion of the funding will come from a $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021 after receiving bipartisan support in Congress. It will distribute about $550 billion of new federal spending over five years.

The Gateway Commission also expects to receive federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program and other federal grant programs.

Backers of the massive taxpayer-funded Hudson Tunnel project say the work will create 72,000 jobs and $19 billion in economic activity and demonstrates that the federal government can tackle massive projects during a critical time for transportation and mass transit.

They also say it will ease a bottleneck of rail traffic coming to and from the city, which could become worse if the renovations aren’t completed.

“The potential failure of one or both of the only two rail tunnels running under the Hudson River is one of the most pressing issues facing New York City right now,” Schumer said.

Biden, who has made infrastructure spending a key plank of his reelection campaign, visited New York in January to tout federal investments. He called the Hudson Tunnel project a “national priority” and part of a much broader plan to build a “21st Century rail system.”

Overall, New York stands to get more than $13.6 billion from the spending bill over the next five years, including at least $11.6 billion for highway upgrades and $1.9 billion for bridges, according to the White House.

The Biden administration’s Infrastructure Report Card gave the state a C- grade, saying there are 1,702 bridges and nearly 7,292 highway miles in poor condition.

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