Continuing the progress implementing the Biden-Harris Administration’s economic agenda, President Biden visited New York on January 31 to announce funding for a critical early phase of the Hudson Tunnel Project and Mega grants for other major infrastructure projects across the country. The President announced the Administration has awarded nearly $1.2 billion from the infrastructure law’s new National Infrastructure Project Assistance discretionary grant program (Mega) for nine projects across the country, including over $292 million to complete a critical early phase of the Hudson Tunnel Project.
These infrastructure investments will create good-paying jobs – including union jobs and jobs that do not require a college degree. The projects will grow the economy, strengthen supply chains, improve mobility for residents, and make our transportation systems safer for all users.
This announcement comes on the heels of several other announcements of funding for major infrastructure projects, including more than $2 billion to upgrade some our nation’s most economically significant bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brent-Spence Bridge through the Bridge Investment Program and $1.5 billion for 26 major projects through the INFRA program.
These infrastructure improvements are a critical part of President Biden’s economic agenda to build the economy from the bottom up and middle out.
Hudson Tunnel Project
President Biden announced a $292 million Mega grant to Amtrak for Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3. This funding is part of a $649 million early phase project that will complete the final section of concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new passenger rail tunnel under the Hudson River. The concrete casing protects the path of the new tunnel from Penn Station to the Hudson River’s edge. If this casing were not built now, the foundations from the new Hudson Yards development would likely impede the path of the tunnel and make the project extremely difficult.
The overall Hudson Tunnel Project is an over $16 billion investment that will improve resilience, reliability, and redundancy for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Amtrak train service between New York and New Jersey. The project will reduce commute times for NJ Transit riders, enhance Amtrak reliability on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and support the northeast regional economy. Amtrak expects the Hudson Tunnel Project will result in 72,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training.
The existing North River Tunnel is over 100 years old, built to early 20th century standards, opened for service in 1910, and is the only passenger rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey. It facilitates more than 200,000 passenger trips per weekday on more than 450 Amtrak and NJ Transit trains servicing New York Penn Station. The tunnel has reached its full capacity of 24 trains per hour, causing bottlenecks and delays. The tunnel has two tubes with one track each. When one goes out of service for any reason, trains have to wait to go through the working tube. This creates headaches for NJ Transit commuters and Amtrak travelers and delays that cascade up and down the Northeast Corridor. In 2020, passengers experienced 12,653 minutes of delay due to problems caused by aging tunnel infrastructure. Delays occurred on 54 different days in 2020 and were attributed to a variety of causes involving the electrical power, signal and track systems.
In 2012, millions of gallons of salt water flooded into the tunnel during Superstorm Sandy. Even today, the remnants of seawater that entered the tunnel in 2012 continue to harm the concrete, steel, tracks and third rail, signaling, and electrical components within the tunnel. Today the tunnel requires regular, and occasional emergency, maintenance that disrupts service for hundreds of thousands of riders throughout the region. Rehabilitation of the tunnel would require a full closure, which will only be possible if a second tunnel existed.
To address those challenges, the Hudson Tunnel Project will rehabilitate the old North River Tunnel; build a new tunnel beneath the Palisades, the Hudson River, and the waterfront area in Manhattan; construct new surface alignment from Secaucus to the new tunnel portal in North Bergen; construct ventilation shafts and fan plants in New Jersey and New York; and make track modifications near Penn Station. When the project is done, the redundant capacity provided by a second tunnel will mean fewer delays and less risk for catastrophic disruption.
The project is part of the larger Gateway Program which envisions expanding and rebuilding the rail line between Newark, New Jersey and New York City through a number of projects, including the new Portal North Bridge, which broke ground last year and is supported by $900 million in federal funding.
Today’s Mega grant announcement is the first of several funding announcements for the project expected this year and the most significant federal funding for the Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project to date.
The Administration is committed to providing the billions of dollars in funding necessary to ensure that this critical project is completed. Later this year, if and when additional milestones are met by the states and other parties, a full funding agreement will be completed.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, with a $66 billion investment in rail. After waiting years for new federal funding, 2023 will be a year in which major rail projects along the 450-mile Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, and Boston, receive their first significant funding.
New Mega Project Grants
The Mega grant program, created by the infrastructure law, 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 to help rebuild the United States’ infrastructure for the benefit of residents now and for generations to come.
Beyond the Hudson Tunnel concrete casing project, the Administration is announcing projects of regional and national economic significance that are receiving Mega grant awards including:
- $250 million for the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio, part of a total investment of $1.6 Billion from the infrastructure law to build a new companion bridge and rehab an existing bridge along a major freight corridor on I-75. Earlier this month, the President and Senate Minority Leader McConnell visited the Brent Spence Bridge to announce this funding.
- $150 million to the Louisiana Department of Transportation for the Calcasieu River Bridge Replacement which will increase capacity on a critical stretch of Interstate 10 which is an important freight route;
- $117 million to the Metra Commuter Railroad in Illinois to make improvements on the Metra Union Pacific-North line on a two-mile corridor from the Addison to Fullerton rail bridges, replacing approximately 11 bridges, 4 miles of track structure, and more than 1.75 miles of retaining walls along Metra’s UP-N line;
- $110 to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to replace the Alligator River Bridge on U.S. Highway 64 with a modern high-rise fixed span bridge along the primary east-west route in northeastern North Carolina between I-95 and the Outer Banks;
- $85 million to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for I-44 and US-75 improvements along a critical urban freight corridor near Tulsa, including vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements;
- $78 million to the City of Philadelphia to make improvements along approximately 12.3 miles of Roosevelt Boulevard, from North Broad Street to the Bucks County line including making traffic signal upgrades, constructing intersection and roadway reconfigurations, constructing median barriers and pedestrian refuge islands, making corridor access management improvements, constructing complete streets improvements for accessibility, pedestrian, and bicycle improvements, as well as installing new business access and transit lanes;
- $60 million to the Mississippi Department of Transportation to widen I-10 in Harrison and Hancock counties along a major freight corridor of regional significance; and,
- $30 million to the California Department of Transportation (Santa Cruz County) for the Watsonville-Cruz Multimodal Corridor Program which will construct approximately 2.5 miles of State Route 1 auxiliary lanes and a Bus on Shoulder facility between Freedom Boulevard and State Park Drive, construct approximately 1.25 miles of the New Coastal Rail Trail within Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line right-of-way, and fund the purchase of 4 new zero-emission buses.