Hudson River rail tunnel project receives $11 billion boost

July 9, 2024

The largest project in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) – and among the largest infrastructure undertakings in American history – moved forward this week with $11 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

The Hudson River Tunnel project will create a new rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey, just one area of investment across the country as part of the BIL’s $66 billion investment in passenger rail.

USDOT officials signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program, allowing the agency to invest close to $6.9 billion to help build the tunnel and rehabilitate the existing North River Tunnel, representing the largest grant ever signed by FTA.

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg also approved three Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loans through USDOT’s Build America Bureau totaling $4.1 billion, which will provide additional support at below-market interest rates. 

Hundreds of thousands of commuters travel daily through the 114-year-old passenger rail tunnel, which was damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, highlighting the need to replace and modernize the congested corridor.

“For decades, Americans watched one of the most heavily-used train tunnels in the hemisphere deteriorate and become a bottleneck that affected travelers from New England to the Mid-Atlantic and beyond,” Buttigieg said. “We are building a new tunnel that improves train travel for millions of Americans and revitalizes a rail corridor that is essential to so much of the nation’s economy.”

The Hudson Tunnel Project includes:

  • Constructing a new double-track tunnel between the Bergen Palisades in New Jersey and Manhattan.
  • Rehabilitating the North River Tunnel damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
  • Creating a concrete casing at Hudson Yards to connect the new tunnel to New York-Penn Station.

“It is important to realize that as we improve New Jersey Transit and Amtrak service in and out of Manhattan, we will improve train and transit service for a region that impacts more than 20% of the nation’s economy,” FTA Acting Administrator Veronica Vanterpool said.

The new tunnel and the rehabilitated tunnel are expected to open by 2038, providing four modern rail tunnels for Amtrak and NJ Transit trains that will enable significant future capacity expansion.

Additional benefits include increased protection of rail operations against extreme weather events, flood management on both sides of the Hudson River, and enhanced safety for first responders, maintenance workers and the public, particularly during evacuations.

Besides FTA funding and the recent announcement from the Build America Bureau, other USDOT support for the project includes:

  • $3.8 billion through the Federal Railroad Administration FY 2022-2023 Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program for the Northeast Corridor Program.
  • $1 billion through Amtrak annual grant funding.
  • $25 million through the USDOT 2023 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program for the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge Project.
  • $292.1 million through the USDOT 2022 MEGA Grant program for the Hudson Yard Concrete Casing Phase 3 project.

Photo courtesy of gatewayprogram.org

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