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President Biden will travel to New York City on Tuesday to announce a $292 million “Mega grant” funding part of the Hudson Tunnel Project, courtesy of the massive infrastructure package signed into law in November of 2021.
Biden’s trip to the Big Apple comes on the heels of Monday’s stop in Baltimore, Maryland, celebrating the planned replacement of a 150-year-old tunnel, and previous trips earlier this month to Kentucky and the southern border, giving a strong impression that the 80-year-old commander-chief is planning a 2024 re-election run.
“The Hudson Tunnel Project will result in 72,000 good-paying jobs, rehabilitate the old North River Tunnel which opened in 1910, build a new tunnel beneath the Palisades, Hudson River, and the waterfront area in Manhattan, and improve reliability for 200,000 weekday passengers on New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Amtrak,” a White House official said in a statement.
The nearly $300 million in federal funding going toward the long-delayed Hudson River Tunnel will help complete a critical early phase of the project, according to the White House.
The grant will go to Amtrak and partly fund the final section of concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new passenger rail tunnel under the Hudson River, according to a White House fact sheet.
The total cost of this phase of the project is $649 million, and the overall Hudson Tunnel Project is estimated to end up costing more $16 billion.
“The project will reduce commute times for NJ Transit riders, enhance Amtrak reliability on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and support the northeast regional economy. Amtrak expects the Hudson Tunnel Project will result in 72,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training,” the White House says.
In 2020, passengers experienced 12,653 minutes of delay due to problems caused by aging tunnel infrastructure, according to the White House, and remnants of seawater that entered the tunnel in 2012 during Superstorm Sandy continue to harm the concrete, steel, tracks and third rail, signaling, and electrical components within the tunnel, requiring regular and emergency maintenance.
The Hudson Tunnel Project is part of the ambitious Gateway Program, which hopes to expand and rebuild the rail line between Newark and New York City through several projects, such as the new Portal North Bridge, which broke ground last year and is backed by $900 million in federal funds.
“The new Gateway rail tunnel is vital to New York, New Jersey, and the entire northeast. It has been a passion of mine for a decade,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told The Post earlier this month.
“Now that we have an administration that is fully on board with Gateway, it is all systems go. I invited the President to come to New York on Tuesday to talk about the great progress we are making as Gateway moves forward, and I look forward to joining him,” he added.
Biden will also announce that his administration has awarded nearly $1.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law’s National Infrastructure Project Assistance discretionary grant program, known as Mega, for major projects across the country, including the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Kentucky and Ohio and the Calcasieu River Bridge Replacement in Louisiana.
The president is expected to be joined in New York by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ).
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation was backed by a few GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), but it was opposed by progressive Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who claimed that Biden was overselling the impact the bill would have and hoped to pass a larger social and environmental spending bill in its place.
While an announcement regarding his 2024 plans doesn’t appear to be imminent, Biden appears to be honing his arguments for why he should stay in the White House for a second term on these January trips.
Biden held an event at the Brent Spence Bridge in Kentucky with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and other Republicans, showcasing what his infrastructure bill can accomplish and touting what his administration can get done with bipartisan support.
“We can get things done. We can move the nation forward if we just drop a little bit of our egos and focus on what’s needed in the country,” Biden said as GOP representatives struggled to elect a House speaker back in Washington.
Biden also made his first trip to the southern border as president this month, after two years of demands by Republicans that he go witness the migrant crisis in person.
On Friday, the president’s infrastructure bill victory lap continues as he and Vice President Kamala Harris will head to Philadelphia to discuss how the law is funding the removal of lead pipes across Philadelphia, according to the White House.