The Biden-Harris Administration is taking a critical step forward on one of the largest infrastructure projects in American history: the revitalization and expansion of the Northeast Rail Corridor, specifically the Hudson River Tunnel (HRT) project between New York and New Jersey. Under President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, informed the Gateway Development Commission (GDC) that the Hudson River Tunnel project has received approval to enter the Engineering phase of the FTA Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “Today, we are proud to announce that the Hudson River Tunnel project is entering the Engineering phase, moving us a huge step closer to finally revitalizing and expanding this century-old piece of American infrastructure.”
The Hudson River Tunnel project is part of the Gateway Program, a series of strategic infrastructure investments designed to improve rail service in New York and New Jersey. The Hudson River Tunnel project is particularly critical because the existing North River Tunnel serving Penn Station is more than 110 years old and was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. While the tunnel has been repaired frequently, its age and damaged condition present reliability concerns for more than 200,000 people who travel through the tunnel on more than 400 trains every weekday..
The Hudson River Tunnel project will build a new two-track rail tunnel from the Bergen Palisades in New Jersey to Manhattan, directly serving New York Penn Station and rehabilitating the existing North River Tunnel.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans travel under the Hudson River every day, not just between New York and New Jersey but between points all along the East Coast,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “FTA is proud to invest in the Hudson River Tunnel, through the CIG program, so these rails can continue to carry millions of people and billions of dollars that help define our country’s economy every year.”
Once all financial, technical, and legal requirements are completed, FTA’s anticipated funding commitment to the Hudson River Tunnel project will be $6.88bn, subject to the annual appropriation of funds by Congress. The overall project cost is approximately $17.18bn.
In addition to the Hudson River Tunnel project, U.S. DOT has provided support for the Gateway program including through a CIG grant agreement for Portal North Bridge, a Mega grant for the Hudson Yard Concrete Casing, which will provide the opening of the new Hudson River tunnel on the New York side, and most recently a RAISE grant for Tonnelle Avenue, which will provide the opening of the tunnel on the New Jersey side. The Hudson River Tunnel project is also under consideration for Federal Railroad Administration grant funds.
While moving into the Engineering phase means the Hudson River Tunnel project is one step closer to accessing billions of dollars in anticipated federal funding, this step also allows GDC to incur costs for engineering activities, demolition and utility relocation, property acquisition, and other non-construction costs, including procurement of specialized equipment and materials.
The CIG program is a multi-step, multi-year funding opportunity to help communities carry out transformational transit projects nationwide. More than five dozen potential projects are currently in various phases of the CIG “pipeline,” covering 23 states and every time zone. The program received a significant authorization boost thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – up to $23bn over five years to invest in new high-capacity transit projects – helping meet the growing demand for federal transit support.