New York and New Jersey Need an $11B Tunnel. Will Biden Make It Happen?

June 28, 2021
The inside of the 110-year-old rail tunnel under the Hudson River, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg got a close-up look at the crumbling state of New York City’s most critical rail link on Monday and vowed that the Biden administration was committed to getting a new train tunnel built under the Hudson River.

After touring the decaying 110-year-old Hudson tunnel in an Amtrak car crammed full of elected officials from New York and New Jersey, Mr. Buttigieg sounded convinced of the urgency of completing a second tunnel. The long-delayed project, with an estimated cost of $11.6 billion, is vitally important to the national economy, he said at a news conference in Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan.

If one of the two tubes of the 110-year-old tunnel had to be closed for repairs, “you would be feeling the economic impact all the way back in Indiana, where I come from,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “That’s how important this is.”

The Biden administration’s embrace of the project — known as Gateway — is a sharp reversal from the Trump administration’s obstructionist stance.

Aboard the train, Mr. Buttigieg rode alongside Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, who said the infrastructure package that President Biden negotiated with Republicans last week included enough money to cover the federal share of the tunnel’s cost.

“Now we can announce that the hostage that was the Gateway tunnel under the previous administration has been freed,” Mr. Schumer said. “We are full speed ahead to get Gateway done.”

Still, the region’s tormented commuters may skeptically state that they have heard this all before. They have.

A new tunnel has been planned, in one form or another, for more than a quarter-century. In all of those years, promises have been made and broken, federal funding has been lined up and then surrendered.

In 2015, the Obama administration deemed Gateway one of the most important public works projects in the country. On Monday, Mr. Schumer said it still was.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-06-29 03:37:55 -0700