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Work Begins for $16.1 Billion Tunnel in New York

After being delayed, then canceled, the $16.1 rail tunnel to connect New York and New Jersey is finally underway.

“This is a day that I know that this city, this region, this country has been looking for and waiting for for a very long time,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said at an event in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan on Nov. 3. 

The Gateway Project is aimed to clear congestion under the Hudson River. The area between Boston and Washington is the busiest passenger-train route, carrying more than 750,000 passengers daily.

The existing, Amtrak-owned tunnel is also being used by New Jersey Transit and is incredibly unreliable.

The initial phase of construction will consist of building underground casings for trains to pass, connecting the new tunnel to New York City’s Pennsylvania Station.

The tunnel system will not be available to commuters until 2035.

Earlier this year, the tunnel project received a $6.9 billion federal grant commitment from the Federal Transit Administration, an essential piece of funding needed for further construction. 

Another $3.8 billion of federal funding was announced on Nov. 3, bringing the total contribution from Washington to more than $11 billion, about 70% of the project.

New Jersey and New York are splitting the remaining costs of the project.

This rail project has been nearly a decade in the making, talks of the project began in the 1990’s but has been stuck in political crossfire.

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law allocated an additional $8 billion over five years to the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program, which included Gateway on a list of priorities, making it possible for the project to begin.

Earlier this year, Biden gave an additional $292 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law to complete a critical phase of the project in its early stages. 

“All systems are a go,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “There is no turning back.”

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