Hudson River rail tunnel project moves forward as NJ, NY reach agreement
Photo courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey announced Tuesday that they’ve agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding that they would split the local portion of the cost of the long-stalled Gateway Project‘s Hudson River tunnels, the New York Times reports. The agreement on who would pay the $14 billion tab for the project’s first phase is a step ahead in one of the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure plans.
The Gateway Project has been in the planning stage for 20 years; previous agreements such as one reached in 2015 between then-governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo have been sidetracked by political and financial diversions, such as President Donald Trump’s refusal to provide federal funding during his administration.
The $14 billion price tag covers only the local share, but it’s necessary to unlock federal funding green-lighted under the Biden administration’s infrastructure legislation, which would pay for at least half the cost. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s total commitment for phase one is $2.7 billion.
Details of how the states would cover this cost are not yet known, though New Jersey has said it would cover some of its share by issuing bonds. The states have also said they plan to work with partners and federal entities to pursue further federal funding via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
As 6sqft previously reported, the current tunnel is the only intercity passenger rail to link New York and New Jersey and served about 200,000 daily commuters in 2019. The project’s new single-track tunnels would supplement the century-old Amtrak-owned rail tunnel. Both current governors have been vocal supporters of the Gateway Project, which would also expand Pennsylvania Station and replace an important New Jersey rail bridge leading to the Hudson.
Hochul said in a statement, “The Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project is vital to the Northeast corridor, and today’s announcement is a critical step forward in turning this vision into reality.”
Murphy said in a statement to the Times that the agreement “marks a pivotal milestone toward the completion of the most significant transportation project not just in New Jersey, but in the entire United States.”
Phase 1, the local cost of which the governors agreed to split evenly, includes the Portal North Bridge and the Hudson tunnels. Bridge construction is set to begin this summer; the excavation of the tunnels won’t begin for more than a year.