President Joe Biden will visit New York City next week with plans to discuss investments by the administration in the Gateway rail tunnel project under the Hudson River.
A White House spokesperson confirmed that the president plans to visit the Big Apple on Tuesday, Jan. 31, noting the commander-in-chief will “discuss how Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for the Hudson River Tunnel project will improve reliability for the 200,000 passenger trips per weekday on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.”
The spokesperson did not provide any further details on the funding announcement.
Kris Kolluri, CEO of the Gateway Development Commission (GDC), which oversees the project, sang the president’s praises and expressed excitement for the visit.
“There is no bigger advocate for our project and for transformative infrastructure projects than President Biden,” said Kolluri in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome him to see how the Gateway Hudson Tunnel will improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of passengers every day.”
Construction is finally set to commence this year on the new underwater rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey, more than a decade after the existing 113-year-old tubes, carrying Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains under the Hudson River, sustained heavy damage during Hurricane Sandy. The new tunnels would also enable substantially increased service capacity on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest passenger rail line.
Often dubbed the nation’s most important rail project, progress was snagged during the Trump administration but has inched forward under Biden, who declared the tunnel a priority.
The massive project carries an appropriately massive price tag: the bi-state GDC estimated this summer that the project would cost a total of about $16 billion, and won’t be done until 2038. The cost balloons to $30 billion when including the cost of supporting infrastructure on the New Jersey side.
The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill authorized $15 billion and appropriated $8 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program, the primary funding vehicle for Gateway; in July of last year the governors of New York and New Jersey agreed to split the remaining costs for the tunnel down the middle.
Construction on the new tunnels themselves is not expected until 2024, but last month, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer announced a $292 million grant to fund the informal kickstarting of the project: the money will cover half the cost of concrete casing on a box tunnel under Hudson Yards, intended to connect the new underwater tunnels with Penn Station.
This story has been updated with a comment from Kris Kolluri of the Gateway Development Commission.