President Joe Biden visited Hudson Yards in New York City today to announce more than $292 million to complete a critical early phase of the $16 billion Gateway Project. The money comes from a National Infrastructure Project Assistance discretionary grant program (Mega), which is part of the larger $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“Just outside this space, the first piece of the new Hudson tunnels is being built. It is one of the biggest parts of the Gateway program,” Biden said. Gateway will encompass the rehabilitation of two 114-year-old rail tunnels under the Hudson River into Manhattan and the creation of two new additional tunnels.
Approximately 200,000 people depend on the train tunnels each day, but the tunnels are deteriorating and were made worse by saltwater damage incurred by Superstorm Sandy more than 10 years ago.
“If these lines shut down for one day, it would cost the US economy $100 million,” said the president, who added that in 2020, there were more than 12,000 minutes of delays along the lines.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer said that if this rail artery on the Northeast Corridor ever backed up, “the heart of the national economy would cease to operate. America would go into a recession overnight. Millions of people would lose their jobs and the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels would be jammed 24/7.”
Schumer explained that New York and New Jersey are each responsible for 25% of the project’s costs, with the federal government responsible for 50%. Additionally, he said that federal transportation loans to the states would count as part of the states’ combined 50% responsibility.
“The $292 million grant we are celebrating today … is for the first and necessary starting point of Gateway, and it’s the hardest part because it cuts through solid Manhattan bedrock to form the entry points for the two new underwater tunnels,” Schumer explained.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that 72,000 construction jobs will be associated with the Gateway project, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy added that they will all be union jobs.
“This new tunnel … is about easing the commutes and relieving the headaches of tens of thousands of state residents who [use it], and the thousands of good paying union jobs the project will create, and the families that those jobs will support,” Murphy said, adding, “It’s [also] about maintaining the strength of the entire Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, DC, through which so much of our nation’s economic lifeblood flows.”
US Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg commented that deciding what projects across the country were to receive Mega funds was a competitive process, as 138 applications were received, but only nine were chosen, including Gateway. “The success of this application represents the unique importance of this tunnel project and the larger program,” he said, adding: “We are tearing down the [past] political obstacles that were put in front of this project, and putting up more of the funding to make sure the project succeeds. … the results will be a stronger national economy and more resilient infrastructure for the entire region.”
US Senator Bob Menendez said that beyond the millions of dollars in grant funding, the thousands of tons of concrete that will soon be poured, and the thousands of jobs that will be created, “today’s event is about people; about communities that will enjoy cleaner, safer and more reliable rail service; and about commuters who will spend more time at home with their families thanks to a transit system that works. … We are seeing the light at the ‘end of the tunnel’ and that this [project] is finally ‘on track.’”
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