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President Biden announces $292M in federal funding for Hudson tunnel project


President Biden announces $292M in federal funding for Hudson tunnel project

Jan 31, 2023 | 2:51 pm ET
By Dana DiFilippo
President Biden announces $292M in federal funding for Hudson tunnel project
President Biden appeared in Manhattan on Jan. 31, 2023, to announce new federal funding to support the long-awaited Hudson tunnel project, which is intended to speed service along the busiest rail corridor in the U.S. (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)

President Biden visited Manhattan Tuesday to tout a $292 million federal grant that will help build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River to replace the deteriorating, century-old tunnel now connecting New Jersey and New York.

The money will fund long-delayed upgrades to the existing tunnel, which was built in 1910 and now transports 200,000 passengers on 450 trains a day. It also will allow workers to complete the Hudson Yards concrete casing, preserving the tunnel’s future path from Penn Station to the river’s edge.

Both projects are part of the $649 million early phase of a $16 billion project to improve NJ Transit and Amtrak infrastructure and rail service between New Jersey and New York. The plan is expected to create 72,000 jobs.

Biden spoke at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s West Side Rail Yard in Manhattan alongside Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

“This is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of finally constructing a 21st Century rail system that’s long, long overdue in this country,” Biden said. “This project is critical to transforming the northeast corridor, increasing speeds, capacity, reliability, and safety.”

The northeast corridor, stretching 450 miles from Boston to Washington, D.C., is the nation’s busiest, and service interruptions in the Hudson tunnel frequently cause bottlenecks and delays all along the corridor. The tunnel can only accommodate 24 trains an hour and has just two tubes, with one track each. When something disrupts service in one tube, trains back up as they wait to pass through the other.

“A problem anywhere along the line means delays up and down the East Coast for folks trying to get to work, businesses trying to ship goods, travelers trying to get to see their families,” said Biden.

The president estimated he traveled 1.1 million miles on Amtrak during his 36 years as a senator from Delaware.

Shutting the line down for just a day costs the American economy $100 million, Biden added.

Work planned includes rehabilitating the old North River Tunnel; building a new tunnel under the Palisades, Hudson River, and Manhattan waterfront; doing surface alignment work from Secaucus to the new tunnel portal in North Bergen; constructing ventilation shafts and fan plants in New Jersey and New York; and modifying tracks near Penn Station.

The funding Biden announced Tuesday is the largest federal grant for the project so far. More grants are expected this year.

“All told, this is one of the biggest, the most consequential projects in the country,” Biden said. “But it’s gonna take time. It’s a multi-billion-dollar effort between the states and the federal government. But we finally have the money, and we’re gonna get it done.”