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NY, NJ sign $6.9B deal with federal government for Hudson River rail tunnel as part of Gateway project

Governor Hochul joins State and Federal officials in Manhattan to make a transportation and infrastructure announcement.
Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Governor Hochul and Senator Chuck Schumer join other state and federal officials to announce a grant from the federal government toward the construction of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. (Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)
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Gov. Hochul and N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that an agreement for an expected $6.9 billion grant from the federal government toward the construction of has been signed.

The money, first announced a year ago by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), constitutes the single largest federal investment in transportation infrastructure in the nation’s history.

“The light at the end of the Gateway tunnel is signed, sealed and delivered,” Schumer said at a press conference near the expected landing of the tunnel on the south side of W. 30th St.

The money comes on top of $3.8 billion in federal funding through the Department of Transportation’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail program, and $2 billion in federal dollars fronted by Amtrak, which controls the rails that run through the tunnel.

All told, the money accounts for more than 70% of the tunnel’s projected $16 billion price tag.

The MTA's West Side Yard on 11th Ave. in Manhattan
Evan Simko-Bednarski / ˵Ӱ
The MTA’s West Side Yard on 11th Ave. in Manhattan. (Evan Simko-Bednarski / ˵Ӱ)

“Today is a historic day — there’s no doubt about it,” Hochul said. “What this says is that New York and New Jersey, this region, still has the boldness — the audacity of vision — that others do not.”

The Hudson River Tunnel is the centerpiece of the  meant to eventually double rail capacity across the New Jersey Meadowlands and into New York Penn Station, modernizing and expanding an aging section of the Northeast Corridor rail line.

The $40 billion Gateway effort also includes the replacement of the Portal Bridge in Kearny, N.J., several smaller bridges in the Meadowlands, and additional track capacity near Secaucus Junction.

When completed, the Hudson River Tunnel will allow crews to close and refurbish the existing North River Tunnel.

Those tubes, built in 1910, were damaged by Hurricane Sandy and require an extensive overhaul.

Upon the completion of that work — expected in 2038 — both tunnels will feed trains into Penn Station, according to the project’s backers.

Any doubling of capacity, however, will be reliant on additional track capacity in the Meadowlands, projects for which there is yet no firm timeline.

Currently, about 425 trains a day traverse the North River Tunnel.

Crews are already hard at work building the Portal North Bridge between Kearny, N.J., and Secaucus — a replacement for the current span across the Hackensack River, an aging swing bridge and known choke point for rail traffic across the New Jersey swamp.

Once the Portal North Bridge is completed — a feat currently scheduled for 2026 — the current bridge will be dismantled and work will begin on a Portal South Bridge.

Monday also marked the beginning of another phase of construction, with a barge moving into position in the Hudson River to begin survey work — the first step in a $284 million project to shore up the Hudson’s silty riverbed ahead of tunnel boring. That work is expected to end in 2027.

The plan in its current iteration would also see a southward expansion of New York Penn Station, into what is known as “block 780” — the city block between W. 31st and W. 30th Sts., bounded by Seventh and Eighth Aves. — in order to create more platform space for New Jersey Transit commuter trains.

That plan, which would see block 780’s demolition, has been met with small but vocal protests from area residents.

“Don’t demolish my house!” one man shouted Monday through the construction site fencing. “Amtrak! Don’t demolish my house!”

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