NYC Region Enters New Era of Mega Projects As Feds Appropriate $10B+ for Tunnels, Bridges

By GEORGE DRAPEAU – November 7, 2023

WASHINGTON—In a series of announcements in the past few days, the Biden Administration has pledged a total of $6.76 billion in federal infrastructure funding for four major projects in the New York City region. They are the Hudson Tunnel Project (part of the Gateway Tunnel Project), Metro-North Penn Access, East River Tunnels rehabilitation and design for Pelham Bay Bridge replacement.

The Biden Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg announced Mon., Nov. 6, a total of $16.4 billion for 25 passenger rail projects along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), a railroad line running between Boston and Washington, D.C. Projects were selected through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Fed-State NEC).

Included in that funding are four New York region infrastructure projects that will employ tens of thousands of union construction workers. Gov. Kathy Hochul reported that the Hudson Tunnel Project Systems and Fit Out, part of the Gateway Tunnel Project, will receive $3.8 billion in federal funding; the Metro-North Railroad Penn Station Access with four new stations in the Bronx has secured $1.64 billion; the rehabilitation of East River Tunnels to Penn Station is slated for $1.26 billion and the replacement of the Pelham Bay Bridge job will be receiving $58 million from the federal government.

Not included in Monday’s announcement was the $3.4 billion the federal government will be providing for the second phase of the Second Avenue subway project. On Nov. 3, Governor Kathy Hochul, Sec. Buttigieg, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13) held a ceremony at the Second Avenue subway site, followed by another press event for work on the Hudson Tunnel project. The Second Avenue federal funding commitment brings the New York mega project total in the region to more than $10 billion.

“President Biden’s ambitious transportation agenda is paying dividends for New Yorkers,” Gov. Hochul said. “New York State is investing billions in the MTA and in infrastructure statewide, including in projects that directly benefit Amtrak. This latest funding will help us deliver modern, safe, and reliable public transportation to underserved communities, while boosting the regional economy. I’m thankful for partnership with the Biden Administration and the leadership of Sen. Schumer.”

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “New Yorkers have never had such good friends in Washington as the Biden Administration and our hometown hero, Sen. Chuck Schumer. This latest shot of federal funding for Metro-North Penn Access will help us get more out of existing infrastructure and will transform commutes for not only thousands of people living in transit-deprived areas of the East Bronx, but also for Amtrak customers who will benefit from the rebuilt Hell Gate Line. Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York is enjoying a Golden Age of transit investment and expansion.”

Below are descriptions of the five mega infrastructure projects that are now green-lighted with the federal infrastructure investment:

Hudson Tunnel Project

The Hudson Tunnel Project will construct a new two-track tunnel under the Hudson River and rehabilitate the existing North River Tunnel, which was severely damaged during Superstorm Sandy, to improve reliability, resiliency, and redundancy for hundreds of thousands of daily passengers who travel across the Hudson River, and allow for much-needed repairs on an essential stretch of the Northeast Corridor.

Metro-North Penn Access

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is overseeing construction of four new Metro-North stations in the East Bronx and track and infrastructure enhancements that will enable the expansion of Metro-North’s New Haven Line to Penn Station and bring Amtrak-owned infrastructure to a state of good repair. The new route will dramatically reduce travel time to and from the East Bronx, which currently lacks rail service. Residents will save up to 75 minutes over current subway and bus connections and creates a direct commuter rail route between the Bronx and Westchester and Connecticut. It also gives Metro-North a second terminal in Manhattan, a critical backup, and is the largest expansion of Metro-North since it was founded 40 years ago.

Rehabilitation of Amtrak’s East River Tunnels to Penn Station

Crews will rehabilitate two Amtrak-owned rail tunnels between Queens and Penn Station that were damaged by salt water flooding during Superstorm Sandy. The tunnels are used by all Amtrak service to New England and hundreds of Long Island Rail Road trains per day along with non-passenger NJ Transit and Amtrak trains traveling to Sunnyside Yard for storage. They will be also used by Metro-North trains when Penn Station Access service begins in 2027. The new tunnels will feature improved track that is directly fixed to the tunnel, all-new components and enhanced climate resiliency.

Pelham Bay Bridge Replacement Project

Amtrak has proposed a final design to replace the existing 115-year-old, two-track Pelham Bay Bridge in the Bronx with a new structure that will facilitate higher speed travel and fewer bridge openings.

Second Avenue Subway (Phase Two)

Building on the success of Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway, which opened on Jan. 1, 2017, Phase 2 is currently underway with teams advancing preliminary design and engineering. Phase 2 will bring a extend subway service north from 96th Street to 125th Street, creating three new stations at 106th, 116th and 125th streets. It will improve mobility for commuters and residents of East Harlem and improve reliability. It will also reduce crowding along the lines on Lexington Avenue.

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