Time to dig: Gateway Tunnel project gets full-funding grant ($6.8B) from federal government

$16B project, which will provide 2 new tunnels under Hudson River (while improving existing ones), aims to be completed by 2035

It’s time to dig the tunnels. Finally.

The $16 billion Gateway Tunnel project received a $6.8 billion full-funding grant from the federal government Tuesday — a celebratory moment for those who have spent more than a decade working to secure the funding on the largest infrastructure project in U.S. history.

While work on major infrastructure updates on both sides of the Hudson River already has begun, this grant will begin the process of hiring crews to start the dig that will lead to two much-needed tunnels.

Gateway Development Commission CEO Kris Kolluri said the work could begin this year.

The project, which will make much-needed improvements to the two existing tunnels (which were built more than a century ago) while creating two more, aims to be completed by 2035.

While those involved were hopeful the final funding would be approved, there still was a sense of relief — and triumph — from all those involved.

“A promise 30 years in the making is close to being realized,” Kolluri told ROI-NJ. “With unmatched support from President (Joe) Biden, Majority Leader (Chuck) Schumer and Govs. (Phil) Murphy and (Kathy) Hochul, the Hudson Tunnel Project is essentially at a point of no return.

“With the final funding puzzle piece almost in place, we can now build the first heavy rail tunnel under the Hudson in more than a century.”

The agreement, between the Federal Transit Administration and Gateway Development Commission, is expected to be signed in the coming weeks.

It certainly marks a triumph for Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been pushing for its approval — and making millions in funds available — since taking office.

“It’s official: We are moving full steam ahead with the largest and most consequential infrastructure project in the nation,” Murphy posted on X, the platform formally known as Twitter.

U.S. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-5th Dist.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.), both of whom are expected to join the race to succeed Murphy, issued celebratory statements.

“After years of hard work, there’s nothing better than seeing federal investment at work to help our families with faster, safer and more reliable commutes,” Gottheimer said. “That’s why I fought so hard to help craft and pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, to claw back dollars to Jersey to build the Gateway Train Tunnel.”

Sherrill noted the jobs the project will bring — tens of thousands of them.

“Today’s announcement means more good-paying, union jobs are coming to New Jersey,” she said. “Since Day One, I’ve fought tooth and nail to secure federal funding to build the Gateway Tunnel, which will bring our infrastructure into the 21st century and improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for millions of families in our region.”

While the news of the grant is just the start of a long and arduous building process, it ends a long and arduous process to get this point.

Planning for the project — and the efforts to obtain funding — seemingly began in February 2011, when former Gov. Chris Christie killed a similar effort (called the ARC project) citing the potential of cost overruns.

While costs always will be a concern, the concern over what would happen if the aging existing tunnels were no longer operable no longer is present.

“This is a big win for commuters on both sides of the Hudson,” Murphy wrote.

Kolluri said the transformative project always has been about more than just infrastructure.
“We are building more than portals of concrete and rebar, we are building portals of opportunity,” he said.