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Buttigieg: $11.6B Hudson River Tunnel a Biden DOT priority

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Dive Brief:

  • Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg laid out the infrastructure priorities of President Joe Biden’s administration for the House Committee Transportation and Infrastructure last week and told lawmakers that the $11.6 billion Hudson River Tunnel replacement and repair project between New York and New Jersey will be a priority. The existing tunnel was damaged by saltwater intrusion during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
  • The Obama administration had pledged support for the project, but former President Donald Trump refused to honor the reported deal struck between the DOT and the governors of New York and New Jersey, which was to pay for half of the project. The Trump administration maintained that the project did not qualify for federal funding and advocated for repairs only to the existing tunnel.
  • Buttigieg told lawmakers that the environmental impact statement necessary to move the project along — which has delayed it by approximately three years — should be complete by June. The report’s delay, according to the Gateway Development Commission, which is executing the tunnel project as part of a $24 billion to $30 billion Amtrak Northeast Corridor infrastructure program, added $300 million to the cost.

Dive Insight:

The ultimate plan for the tunnel project is to build a new tube with two tunnels, put that into service and then do a full rehab on the existing tube.

Earlier this month, the GDC issued an update on the Hudson River tunnel project, as well as another Gateway project, the $1.9 billion Portal North Bridge replacement in New Jersey, which secured a $766.5 million Capital Investment Grant from the Federal Transit Administration in January.

The North Portal Bridge procurement process is underway, and early work is being performed for the Hudson tunnel. Expected to be completed by the end of this year is the relocation of utilities from the Long Island Rail Road’s emergency services building at Hudson Yards in Manhattan.

In his comments to House lawmakers last week, Buttigieg said that a true recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must include “a national commitment to fix and transform America’s infrastructure.” Maintaining the “status quo” of how the U.S. approaches infrastructure, he said, is “a threat to our collective future” and pales in comparison to what China dedicates to its infrastructure needs.

This week, the USDOT announced a $230 million discretionary grant program for U.S. port and intermodal construction projects and that the $30.5 billio provided in the American Rescue Plan for the country’s transportation programs was now available.

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