Construction of a long-delayed rail tunnel under the Hudson River is about to get a boost, as the project will receive an additional $3.8 billion in federal funding.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, announced the latest grants on Friday, just before he and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that work would begin this month on the next phase of the $16.1 billion tunnel, known as the Gateway Project. will be.
The new, initial phase of the project involves the construction of a concrete cover on Manhattan’s West Side for trains to pass under Hudson Yards, between the riverbank and Pennsylvania Station.
On the New Jersey side of the river, work on rebuilding a highway is also scheduled to begin this month so that tunnel excavation can begin. Plans set by the project’s sponsor, the Gateway Development Commission, call for two giant boring machines to bore their way through the Palisades rock, under the river and into the Manhattan bedrock.
Commuter trains would eventually take this route, climbing through the concrete cover on Penn Station’s platforms.
Excavations are expected to begin in 2025. The new tunnel is scheduled to open after 10 years.
On Friday, Mr. Buttigieg called the tunnel project the “largest and most significant infrastructure project” in the country and compared it to “cathedrals of our infrastructure” like the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam.
Plans to build a tunnel between the station and New Jersey have been a political football for more than 15 years. But with the enthusiastic support of the Biden administration, Mr. Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, has secured more than $10 billion in federal funds for the tunnel, which Mr. Buttigieg has called a national priority.
“With so much money already in place, it’s highly unlikely it won’t get done,” Mr. Schumer said Thursday.
Given the history of the project, travelers in the metropolitan area may remain skeptical. Work had begun on a separate Hudson River Tunnel project before it was stopped 13 years ago by Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey at the time and current Republican candidate for president.
Had that project gone ahead then, a new tunnel would likely have been used by now, relieving pressure on the existing tunnels, which are over 110 years old.
The two one-track tubes are in such poor condition that trains running in and out of the city are often delayed due to signal failures and problems with the overhead wires that provide power to their engines.
The addition of the two-track Gateway Tunnel would allow the old tunnels to be rehabilitated, but former President Donald J. Construction is expected to take more than a decade after years of delays during Trump’s tenure.
The gateway is a pet project of Mr. Schumer, but it has also received considerable attention from the Biden administration.
Mr Buttigieg visited the old tunnels two years ago and announced his support Complementing them with the Gateway Project. Mr. Biden appeared in Midtown in January to announce that the federal government would provide $292 million for the concrete casing, which he hailed as “finally the beginning of building a 21st century rail system.”
Nine months later, that money is being put to work. But that’s a small fraction of the federal money Gateway receives.
Earlier this year, Mr Schumer announced that the US Department of Transportation would provide $6.88 billion for the project. The latest award increases the federal contribution to more than $11 billion, or nearly 70 percent Total estimated cost of construction. New York and New Jersey have agreed to split the remaining amount.
“This is unheard of,” Mr. Schumer said on Friday. “But I’m the majority leader, this is New York and we move forward in a big way.”
Chris Kolluri, chief executive of the Gateway Development Commission, said the additional federal funds would cut both states’ obligations by more than half, sharply reducing the amount of bonds they have to issue.
“What this means is that it fundamentally changes the financial burden on the states,” Mr Kolluri said. “States won’t have to borrow as much, so their financing costs are going down.”
The Commission and the states must still reach a formal agreement with the federal government on the details of funding the gateway. That document is expected to be completed next year.