Biden delivered remarks at the site for the Hudson Tunnel Project
(MAINNEWS) -President Biden traveled to New York City on Tuesday where he announced a $292 million mega grant to Amtrak for Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3.
“While others tried to shut this down, I made clear this is a national priority,” Biden said, according to Reuters, at a railyard at the Hudson River tunnel, which is the largest rail corridor in the country. “Wall Street is important, but it didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country and union built the middle class.”
The White House said in a statement earlier Tuesday that the funding is part of a $649 million early phase project that will complete the final section of concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new passenger rail tunnel under the Hudson River.
The concrete casing protects the path of the new tunnel from Penn Station to the Hudson River’s edge. If not built now, the foundations from the new Hudson Yards development would likely impede the path of the tunnel and make the project extremely difficult, according to the Biden administration.
The existing North River Tunnel is over 100 years old, built to early 20th century standards, opened for service in 1910, and is the only passenger rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey.
It facilitates more than 200,000 passenger trips per weekday on more than 450 Amtrak and NJ Transit trains servicing New York Penn Station.
“The overall Hudson Tunnel Project is an over $16 billion investment that will improve resilience, reliability, and redundancy for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Amtrak train service between New York and New Jersey,” the White House said. “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 Democratic president’s trip to New York City on Tuesday comes on the heels of his stop Monday in Baltimore to highlight the replacement of an aging rail tunnel there, where he pledged that government spending on infrastructure will boost economic growth and create blue-collar jobs.
The New York stop also gave Biden a chance to highlight his administration jumpstarting a project that languished during President Donald Trump’s time in office. The yearslong modernization of the Hudson project started in 2013 but stalled as Trump battled with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over funding for the project.
“This is one of the biggest, the most consequential projects in the country,” Biden said. “But we finally have the money, and we’re going to get it done. I promise we’re going to get it done.”
The New York and Baltimore trips amount to a form of counterprogramming to the new House Republican majority. GOP lawmakers are seeking deep spending cuts in exchange for lifting the government’s legal borrowing limit, saying that federal expenditures are hurting growth and that the budget should be balanced.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Biden are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, with the Republican lawmaker intending to press his case for spending cuts even though White House officials say Biden won’t negotiate over the need to increase the federal debt limit.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in America who doesn’t agree that there’s some wasteful Washington spending that we can eliminate,” McCarthy told CBS News on Sunday.
Mitch Landrieu, the White House senior adviser responsible for coordinating implementation of the infrastructure law, told reporters on Tuesday that if Republicans are looking to “take away money from projects, they ought to, I think, identify which projects they don’t want.”
“And then you can have that discussion with the American people,” Landrieu added.
By Danielle Wallace