Lawmakers call for New York, New Jersey rail improvements to move full speed ahead

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PENN STATION, Manhattan — Federal officials say that progress is being made on the plans to build new rail tunnels under the Hudson River.

Lawmakers from New York and New Jersey told reporters Friday morning that the project is now part of a process that will allow for quicker environmental review and that the project is eligible for federal grants and financing.

Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said at a news conference in Penn Station that the tunnel project is on target to begin construction in 2019.

The Gateway project will also address the aging Portal Bridge in New Jersey that is a major chokepoint along the busy Northeast Corridor.

The tunnel is part of a broader Amtrak upgrade program that's expected to top $20 billion and take roughly 15 years. The tunnel could be completed within 10.