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History in the Making: The Nation’s Most Urgent Infrastructure Project Gets Underway

By ALICIA GLEN, BALPREET GREWAL VIRK, AND ANTHONY COSCIA, City & State NY

JANUARY 23, 2024


The last twelve months marked a turning point for American infrastructure, and nowhere is that more evident than in the progress made on the Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project. For decades, plans to build a second set of tubes connecting New York to New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast Corridor sat at the starting gate. Today, the gears are in motion to finally bring reliable and resilient rail transportation to a region that has for too long relied on a 113-year-old one-track-in, one-track-out tunnel plagued by delays. 


The start of construction on the new tunnel on both sides of the Hudson River was one of the defining milestones in transportation for 2023. An achievement as symbolic as it is substantial, work on two of the tunnel’s critical early works components launched this past November. On Manhattan’s west side, construction began on the Hudson Yards Concrete Casting—Section 3, an essential right-of-way preservation project linking the new tunnel into New York Penn Station. (As Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the first day of construction, “The most important public works project in America is all systems go.”) And in North Bergen, New Jersey, ground broke that same month on the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge and Utility Relocation Project, which will build a roadway bridge that allows for both a connection to the new tunnel’s portal and an access point for the tunnel boring machines. 


New Yorkers and New Jerseyans alike can now see for themselves that this vital tunnel is being built. But behind the scenes, equally historic pieces of the puzzle fell into place in 2023. This project’s importance to the region and the country was underscored by the fact that the federal funding commitment to the Hudson Tunnel Project represents its largest investment in a mass transit project ever. 


With profound support from the tunnel’s boldest champions – including the Biden administration, Majority Leader Schumer, Governors Hochul and Murphy, the New York and New Jersey Congressional delegation, and many others – GDC secured this tunnel’s future. From the $6.88 billion committed when GDC received FTA approval to enter the Engineering phase of the CIG grantmaking process, to the $3.8 billion award through the US Department of Transportation’s Federal-State Partnership grant, to the $25 million USDOT RAISE and $292 USDOT MEGA grants, the momentum this year was nothing short of remarkable. 


The $12 billion federal commitment to the Hudson Tunnel Project is a big win for important infrastructure projects across New York and New Jersey. The federal commitment allowed GDC to revise the Hudson Tunnel Project’s funding split, significantly reducing our states’ financial burden, and freeing up funds for other critical capital projects. GDC and the FTA are on track to complete a Full Funding Grant Agreement this year for the $6.88 billion grant that makes up the largest share of this commitment, marking the final federal funding component to deliver the Hudson Tunnel Project for millions of riders. 


GDC is rolling into the new year on sure footing, ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead and optimistic as ever. 2024 will mark the start of major awards and construction on highly complex components required to build this new tunnel. But New Yorkers and New Jerseyans don’t need to wait until the tunnel is finished to start feeling the benefits. Getting shovels in the ground means the first of 72,000 good-paying jobs are being created, American suppliers and manufacturers are getting tapped for new business, and $19 billion in economic activity over the construction period is starting to reverberate across the region. 


Working in the transportation sector, we are continually reminded that everything is interconnected. Our dependence on one another is what makes a diverse region like New York great. But it’s also why catastrophes like the Covid-19 pandemic and Hurricane Sandy are so painful. The new Hudson Tunnel will help rebuild our connections to one another – eliminating the threat of a single point of failure for the Northeast Corridor, supporting the return to public transportation for commuters and travelers, and shoring up the spokes on the hub that make New York the beating heart of the American economy. As we enter 2024, a modern transportation experience that matches our 21st century economy is at last on the horizon.


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