NY, NJ rail project gets key federal approval

NY, NJ rail project gets key federal approval
© Greg Nash

The Transportation Department on Friday greenlit the Hudson Tunnel Project’s environmental impact statement and will allow it to move on toward final design and construction. 

The approval marks a key step in the Gateway Program effort that will repair tunnels that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in in 2012 and boost rail access between New York and New Jersey.

The approval allows officials driving the project to begin laying the groundwork for construction, including acquiring property and requesting federal money. 

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“This long-awaited step brings us much closer to beginning the critical work of constructing the new Hudson Tunnel,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D). “Today’s action is a key step forward to building rail infrastructure that will be dependable for decades to come. We look forward to working with our regional and federal partners to complete the Hudson Tunnel Project and continue to advance the Gateway Program in order to provide much needed relief to commuters and businesses in New Jersey and New York.” 

The breakthrough comes after the project spent years in limbo after the Trump administration didn't approve the environmental impact statement.

However, the Biden administration recommitted to moving the project forward this year.

Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries MORE said in March that the environmental impact statement would be approved by the middle of 2021.  

The actual construction of the project is still under debate, however. The current plan would involve building a new tunnel underneath the Hudson River and build two new tracks heading into Penn Station before repairs on existing infrastructure are made.

However, New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNYC George Floyd statue to be relocated after vandalism As Biden's America becomes less safe, the violence and crime could cost Democrats New York gun rights case before Supreme Court with massive consequences  MORE (D) has previously suggested that the tunnels that already exist under the Hudson River could be kept in service and repaired simultaneously. 

The environmental impact statement that was approved by the Transportation Department approves the original plan for construction.