$11 billion New York-New Jersey rail tunnel gets key federal approval

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Northeast Corridor Tunnels

FILE – This Oct. 17, 2018 file photo shows damage to the Hudson River rail tunnel in New York. (Pool Photo/Victor J. Blue/The New York Times via AP)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A planned $11 billion tunnel seen as a key to train travel up and down the northeastern U.S. has received a key federal environmental approval.

The record of the decision announced Friday by the Department of Transportation means the project to build a new Hudson River tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey can push ahead with engineering and design work.

The project had been waiting three years since it completed its environmental studies.

Stakeholders including Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have alleged the Trump administration delayed the approval for political reasons, a charge Trump’s administration denied.

The existing tunnel is more than 110 years old and prone to problems and delays, including severe damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) praised the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for approving the plan.

“After three years of politically-motivated delays and attempts by the Trump Administration to derail Gateway, this long-overdue milestone gets us one step closer to building a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel and delivering New Jersey commuters the safe, reliable service they demand and deserve,” said Sen. Menendez, a senior member of the Senate’s mass transit subcommittee.  “The FRA’s Record of Decision allows us to move forward towards completing the full Gateway Program—the nation’s most important transportation project—that will modernize our rail infrastructure and ensure the region’s long-term economic vitality.  In recent weeks, Secretary Buttigieg and Nuria Fernandez, the acting head of the Federal Transit Administration, gave me their word that they will continue to work with me, our state’s congressional delegation, Governor Murphy, and the project sponsors to advance Gateway—and I intend to hold them to their commitments.”

“I applaud FRA for issuing a final record of decision that will move the Hudson River Tunnel Project into the next phase, marking yet another exciting step toward providing New Jersey commuters the relief they desperately need,” said Sen. Booker.  “Since the early meetings of the stakeholders for this project, we affirmed long-term commitments to updating this outdated infrastructure and putting the Gateway Program back on track. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Menendez, our stakeholders, the Gateway Commission, and the Biden Administration in seeing Gateway through to completion.”

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