Biden Announces Investment in ‘Mega Projects’

Written by David C. Lester, Engineering Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Railway Track & Structures
The Gateway Program will eventually double rail capacity between Newark, N.J., and New York. (GDC)

The Gateway Program will eventually double rail capacity between Newark, N.J., and New York. (GDC)

President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Jan. 31 announced that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded nearly $1.2 billion from the new National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) discretionary grant program to nine projects across the country.

“From the Hoover Dam to the Golden Gate Bridge, some infrastructure projects are so large and complex that they defy traditional funding systems—and so significant that they become iconic parts of the American landscape,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “After receiving over one hundred applications, we are proud to fund these nine infrastructure mega projects across the country to create jobs, strengthen our supply chains, expand our economy, and renew America’s built landscape.”

Two of the nine projects are for rail infrastructure. Concrete Casing for Hudson Yards, which received a grant of $292 million, is the first. This award will help fund the final section of concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new Hudson River Tunnel and lay the groundwork for the much-anticipated Gateway Project. Once completed, the future Hudson Tunnel project will improve commute times, Amtrak reliability on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and support the NEC regional economy, which is home to 17% of the U.S. population. Amtrak expects the Hudson Tunnel project will result in 72,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training.

“Completing the last phase of the Concrete Casing kicks us into high gear on the Hudson Tunnel Project,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said. “The new tunnel is essential to the future of the region and the nation, and will improve the customer experience for millions, create career opportunities for thousands, and help us fight climate change. We thank President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, Senator Schumer, [New York and New Jersey] Governors Hochul and Murphy, Congress, and our Mega Grant co-applicants, NJ Transit and the Gateway Development Commission, for their support of Amtrak and one of the most critical infrastructure projects in America.”

Hudson Tunnel Yards Animation Courtesy of Amtrak

The second rail infrastructure grant is for $117 million to the Metra commuter railroad in Illinois. It will be used for the Metra UP North Rebuild: Fullerton to Addison project, which includes replacing approximately 11 bridges, four miles of track structure, and more than 1.75 miles of retaining walls.


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