NEW YORK — Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has toured the century-old rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey as a long-delayed project to build a new tunnel gains steam.
Buttigieg accompanied members of the two states’ Congressional delegation including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and fellow Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey Monday morning.
“When we were in that tunnel the leader pointed out a literal light at the end of the tunnel and we believe that that light is the American jobs plan,” Buttigieg said.
Last month the federal government gave the $11 billion project key environmental approvals necessary to secure full funding, after the project was delayed under the Trump administration.
Sen. Schumer said the project was a hostage under the Trump administration.
“We are turning this around and we are going to turn it around in quicker time than people ever thought was possible,” Schumer said.
The aging tunnel is a source of regular delays due to aging infrastructure.
A new tunnel would allow the old tunnel to be overhauled and then returned to use, eventually increasing capacity.
The $11.6 billion project calls for creating a new passageway under the Hudson, connecting between Penn Station in Newark and Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan
Funding, which is expected to be included in a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a federal budget reconciliation bill, will also go toward rehabilitating the existing tubes, which suffered damage during Superstorm Sandy.
Official say with all the enthusiasm now behind the project, construction — which was originally planned for 2023 — could start as early as 2022. A timeline for all of it is estimated to be six to seven years.
“The block has been removed it is a new day and we are moving full speed ahead to get this project done,” Sen. Booker said.