New Phase of Gateway Tunnel Project in Hudson River to Begin

Construction of the long-delayed rail tunnel under the Hudson River is about to speed up, as the project gets an additional injection of $3.8 billion in federal funding.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, will announce the latest grant from Washington on Friday, just before he and Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, are scheduled to proclaim the start of work this month on the next phase of the $16.1 billion tunnel on Manhattan’s West Side, known as the Gateway project.

This new, early phase of the project involves constructing a concrete casing for trains to pass through under the Hudson Yards section of Midtown Manhattan, between the river’s edge and Pennsylvania Station.

On the New Jersey side of the river, work is scheduled to begin, also this month, on the realignment of a highway so that the digging of the tunnel can begin. Plans laid out by the project’s sponsor, the Gateway Development Commission, call for two giant boring machines to grind their way through the cliff, under the river and into the bedrock of Manhattan.

That is the path commuter trains will eventually take, ascending through the concrete casing to platforms at Penn Station.

Digging is expected to begin in 2025. The new tunnel is scheduled to open 10 years later.

The plan to build a tunnel between the station and New Jersey has been kicked around like a political football for more than 15 years. But under the protective cover of the Biden administration, Mr. Schumer has lined up more than $10 billion in federal funds for the tunnel, which Mr. Buttigieg has said is a national priority.

“With so much money already there, there’s virtually no chance it won’t be completed,” Mr. Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, said in a brief interview.

Commuters in the metropolitan region may remain dubious, considering the concept’s history. Work had begun on a different Hudson River tunnel project before Chris Christie, who was then New Jersey’s governor and is now a Republican presidential candidate, put a halt to it 13 years ago.

Had that project proceeded, a new tunnel would most likely have been in use by now, relieving pressure on the existing tunnels that are more than 110 years old.

That pair of one-track tubes is in such poor condition that trains into and out of the city are often delayed by signal failures and problems with the overhead wires that provide power.

The addition of the two-track Gateway tunnel would allow for the rehabilitation of the old tunnels, but it is expected to take more than a decade to complete after years of delays during the term of President Donald J. Trump.

Gateway is a favorite project of Mr. Schumer’s, but it has also received a great deal of attention from the Biden administration.

Mr. Buttigieg toured the old tunnels two years ago and declared his support for the project to supplement them. The president himself appeared in Midtown in January to announce that the federal government would provide $292 million for the concrete casing that is about to be built. He hailed it as the “beginning of finally constructing a 21st-century rail system.”

Nine months later, that money is being put to work. But it is a small fraction of the federal grants Gateway has received.

Earlier this year, Mr. Schumer announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation would provide $6.88 billion to the project. The latest award raises the federal contribution to more than $11 billion, or about 70 percent of the estimated total cost of building the tunnel. New York and New Jersey have agreed to split the remaining costs.

“To get it to 70 percent is just really great news,” Mr. Schumer said. “Now New York state has more money to put into other transportation projects and so does New Jersey.”

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