Transportation Bill Expected to Benefit Hudson Rail Tunnel

Supporters of a project to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River said Monday that Congress' recently passed transportation legislation will provide a big boost.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Charles Schumer of New York discussed the project in New York along with Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Pat Foye.

The two states, the Port Authority and Amtrak are key stakeholders in the project, which would add a second rail tunnel under the river separating New Jersey and New York.

The existing tunnel is already operating at peak capacity and was built 105 years ago. It suffered saltwater damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and Amtrak officials have said that will force them to take both its tubes out service within the next 15 to 20 years for repairs.

A new tunnel is considered critical for the New York metropolitan area, where delays due to electrical problems or other issues can spread along the 457-mile corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston. About 750,000 people ride the corridor each day on Amtrak or several commuter lines, according to Amtrak.

The transportation bill, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, makes three key advancements, officials said Monday.

It allows Amtrak to reinvest its profits from its Northeast Corridor line in the Northeast region; previously, Amtrak was required to use the profits to subsidize its less-profitable lines around the country.

The legislation also made changes to a $35 billion federal loan program and a mass-transit grant program to make them easier to access.

"The trifecta of significant federal funding victories in this transportation bill will keep the Gateway tunnel project on the rails and moving full steam ahead," Schumer said.

The tunnel is estimated to cost upward of $10 billion and is part of Amtrak's Gateway program that also includes a new bridge over New Jersey's Hackensack River, expanded track capacity and an expanded Penn Station in New York.

The cost for the entire project is expected to top $20 billion and take roughly 15 years to complete. The tunnel could be completed within 10 years.

The federal government has committed to paying for half of the tunnel project, with the other half expected to come from the states and the Port Authority.

Contact Us