Gateway Tunnel Project Awarded Billions in Federal Mass Transit Grants

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced $4.5 billion in federal funding for mass transit improvements in New Jersey and the region, including historic investments in the Gateway Program and the modernization of Newark Penn Station.

The funding was authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which includes $3.8 billion for the Hudson River Tunnel, a key component of the Gateway Program; $300 million to rehabilitate the 90-year-old, six-track Dock Bridge over the Passaic River, also part of the Gateway Program; and $59 million to improve passenger circulation at Newark Penn Station, a critical hub in the Northeast Corridor.

Building Up Regional Connectivity

“This large round of mass transit investments will pay dividends for generations to come, helping push Gateway toward completion and strengthening regional connectivity,” said  Booker. 

“Thanks to this funding, we will upgrade decades-old infrastructure and help modernize our mass transit system, to the benefit of the lives of millions of commuters. These investments will also spur economic growth and create thousands of jobs for New Jerseyans. I will continue to work with the Biden Administration and congressional colleagues to deliver funding to rebuild New Jersey’s and our region’s transportation infrastructure,” Booker added.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

“This generous award, made possible by the Biden Administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, allows us to significantly advance two major infrastructure projects that have long languished prior to the Murphy Administration,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett. 

“Delco Lead and Newark Penn Station are just two of the more than 100 vital projects within our $17 Billion Five-Year Capital Plan, transforming our transit system and the customer experience for generations to come.  We are grateful to the USDOT and the Federal Railroad Administration for this critical funding, and thank Senator Booker and our entire Congressional delegation for their tireless advocacy for public transportation in New Jersey.”

‘… the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation …’

“The Hudson Tunnel is the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation, and that urgency starts in New Jersey,” said Kris Kolluri, CEO of the Gateway Development Commission. 

“The project will finally bring a 21st century, reliable, resilient ride for hundreds of thousands of commuters and riders in our region every single day. We’re beyond grateful to Senator Booker, Governors Murphy and Hochul, and our entire delegation for delivering an unprecedented federal funding commitment that will make the tunnel a reality.”

Funding Particulars

This funding announcement comes months after the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $6.88 billion in federal funds to the Hudson River Tunnel project, the largest-ever federal investment in mass transit. The federal investment in the Gateway Program now exceeds $11 billion.

The New Jersey and regional projects receiving funding are:

  • $300,184,000 to Amtrak for the Dock Bridge Rehabilitation in Newark and Harrison: The proposed project includes construction for rehabilitation of the Dock Bridge, which crosses the Passaic River between Newark and Harrison. The 90-year-old, six-track, steel through-truss bridge will undergo repair of the structural steel, installation of straight steel rails to replace moveable miter rails, repair to concrete piers and fender replacement, and installation of a targeted anti-corrosion protection system to slow or stop future degradation to the bridge structure. The project will improve operations for Amtrak’s intercity services, as well as New Jersey Transit commuter services and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Port Authority Trans-Hudson transit service.
  • $3,799,999,820 to Gateway Development Commission for the Hudson Tunnel Project: The proposed project includes final design and construction activities of the Hudson River Tunnel project and rehabilitation of the existing North River tunnels. Construction will include systems and fit out work in the tunnels, including installation of track, signals, traction power, ventilation, and fire and life safety systems. Design support, design management, and construction management will support the overall project, including tunneling and heavy civil engineering work, the New Jersey surface alignment, and rehabilitation of the existing North River Tunnel.
  • $133,327,610 to Amtrak for the Sawtooth Bridges Replacement Enabling Components Project in Kearny: The project involves construction of early-action, critical-path activities for the Sawtooth Bridges Replacement project and includes utility relocations, catenary and aerial signal relocations, removal and replacement of the current crossover between the New Jersey Transit Morris & Essex Line and Conrail Center Street Branch, site access improvements, and property acquisition from Conrail. Completing the early action items is anticipated to accelerate the overall Sawtooth Bridges Replacement Project schedule by at least two years.
  • $180,902,767 to NJ Transit for the Delco Lead project in New Brunswick: The project includes a new service and inspection facility, crew quarters, equipment storage space, and the 3.5-mile Delco Lead track itself, which provides capacity to store approximately 300 rail cars. Construction of the new facilities will reduce New Jersey Transit train volumes through Trenton Station, reducing congestion and delays in this area of the Northeast Corridor. State-of-good-repair benefits, including improved drainage, signal upgrades, and catenary upgrades to the Northeast Corridor main line will occur in the project area. The project would enable subsequent Northeast Corridor chokepoint relief projects in New Jersey.
  • $59,200,000 to NJ Transit for Newark Penn Station Vertical Circulation Improvements: The proposed project includes final design and construction to upgrade, rehabilitate, or replace 11 elevators and 17 escalators within Newark Penn Station. The project will improve accessibility and overall passenger circulation throughout the station, which serves Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor services, New Jersey Transit’s commuter rail network and local transit services, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Port Authority Trans-Hudson transit service.
  • $21,600,000 to Amtrak to examine opportunities to increase speeds and reduce travel time between Washington, DC and New York City: The project includes a planning study to identify needs and opportunities to improve service, including operating speeds through on-corridor or adjacent-to-corridor infrastructure improvements along the Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, and northern New Jersey. The study will inform the planning of improvements to benefit Amtrak’s intercity services, with potential benefits to commuter service operators in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Hudson River Tunnel Project

The Hudson River Tunnel project is part of the Gateway Program, a series of strategic infrastructure investments designed to improve rail service in New York and New Jersey. The Hudson River Tunnel project is particularly critical because the existing North River Tunnel serving Penn Station is more than 110 years old and was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. While the tunnel has been repaired frequently, its age and damaged condition present reliability concerns for more than 200,000 people who travel through the tunnel on more than 400 trains every weekday. According to a study by the Northeast Corridor Commission, commuters in 2020 were delayed more than 210 hours due to maintenance issues.

The Hudson River Tunnel project will build a new two-track rail tunnel from the Bergen Palisades in New Jersey to Manhattan, directly serving New York Penn Station and rehabilitating the existing North River Tunnel. Additionally, as part of the construction, nearly 5,000 new affordable housing units will be created in the adjacent Hudson Yards. The project will improve New Jersey Transit and Amtrak service for a region that impacts more than 20 percent of the nation’s economy. If the North River tunnel were to shut down for one day, it would cost the United States more than $100 million.

The Background

In 2015, Booker hosted a meeting in his Newark office with federal and state officials, including the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and the Governor of New Jersey, who reached an agreement to commit a substantial federal grant contribution toward the Hudson River tunnel, paving the way for the project to move forward.

The grants are part of more than $16 billion announced today by the Federal Railroad Administration to 25 projects in seven states and the District of Columbia under the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Northeast Corridor (NEC) Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail.

In January, Booker joined President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to announce the award of $292 million for the Gateway Program to create a concrete casing near Hudson Yards in Manhattan intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new Hudson River tunnel and lay the groundwork for the much-anticipated Hudson River tunnel project.

In August 2022, Booker joined Governor Phil Murphy and Secretary Buttigieg to celebrate the official physical groundbreaking of the new Portal North Bridge. Construction of the new Portal North Bridge will greatly reduce gridlock caused by critical operation and maintenance issues of the existing 110-year-old swing bridge and improve service, reliability, and capacity for rail travel along the Northeast Corridor.