President Biden visits NYC to tout funding for Gateway Tunnel

President Joe Biden visited New York City on Tuesday to announce $292 million in funding for part of the Gateway Tunnel Project that will build a new train tunnel under the Hudson River to New Jersey.

The long-planned project is being called the "most important infrastructure project in America" by proponents.

The Northeast Corridor, the busiest passenger rail line in the country, uses the hundred-year-old tunnel to get in and out of Manhattan.  The two tubes of the tunnel were damaged by Superstorm Sandy and need extensive repairs.  There are often delays on the rail line due to service being cut down to a single track at some periods due to emergency work on one line.

The rail lines run at 100% capacity during rush hour periods as NJ Transit used the same rails to provide service in and out of Manhattan.

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The tunnel project has been planned and postponed multiple times.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceled the project during his administration over fears of unfunded costs.

Another version of the project was put on hold when President Donald Trump refused to approve funding.  President Biden, a proponent of public transportation, revived funding as part of the National Infrastructure Project Assistance grant program.

The funding being announced on Tuesday is being awarded to Amtrak for the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing – Section 3 project in New York City. The funding will cover the construction of the third and final section of the concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new Hudson River Tunnel and allow for the continued redevelopment of Hudson Yards.

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The administration says is it a critical piece of the larger Gateway Program.

The Hudson Yards Concrete Casing – Section 3 was one of nine nationally significant projects selected for this first year of the Mega Grant program. This grant will be funded over the course of four years from Fiscal Year 2022-2025.

The Mega grant program funds projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs. Eligible projects include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail, and public transportation projects that are a part of one of the other project types.

The Mega program will invest a total of $5 billion through 2026.

Another part of the larger Gateway Program has started construction.  In April 2022, the Portal North Bridge project got the green light to begin construction.

It will build a new bridge over the Hackensack River that connects Secaucus and Kearny to replace a 112-year-old swing bridge that occasionally becomes stuck after opening to allow boats to pass underneath.

The bridge carries hundreds of trains to the Hudson River Tunnels.