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Amtrak Releases $100B Plan To Rebuild, Expand Vital Northeast Corridor

Amtrak train on the Northeast Corridor

If a new initiative to revitalize the Northeast Corridor goes according to plan, construction on a new Hudson River Tunnel could start in 2025.  

Amtrak, the U.S. Department of Transportation and transportation officials from eight state governments and Washington, D.C., released a $117B proposal for improving the critical railway Wednesday, calling it CONNECT NEC 2035, or C35 for short. Of that total, $11B is set to go toward work on the Hudson River Tunnel, which runs between New York and New Jersey, the Associated Press reported

Renovations on the entire 450-mile corridor, which spans from Washington, D.C., to Boston, would be completed by 2035 under the proposed plan, creating an estimated 1.7 million jobs along the East Coast, improving travel times to New York by nearly a half-hour and increasing the frequency of service for Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains by 33%.

For New York specifically, C35 would create 435,000 construction jobs and include the Gateway Program, the Penn Station Access and Penn Reconstruction. The plan would support "innovation districts" and be a "catalyst for ongoing development initiatives" in Philadelphia, Boston, Newark, Delaware, and Providence, Rhode Island, officials said.

“This plan lays out how projects can be sequenced and coordinated to get the most work out of track outages, minimize customer impacts, and save money," MTA Construction and Development President Janno Lieber said in a statement.

The plan would cost $117B, but it has a $100B funding gap, which the Northeast Corridor Commission, the intergovernmental body created by Congress in 2008, said would come from a combination of federal and state governments.

The proposal comes days after the congressionally appointed Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission released a 76-page report that found upgrades to the line are essential to the region — and the country’s — economy. 

“Our leaders in Washington need to read this report to understand the economic risk they are taking if they don’t act now to reverse decades of underinvestment in the aging and deteriorating infrastructure of the NEC,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a release about the report

“The Northeast Corridor is such a massive part of the Northeast economy, and the Northeast economy is such a huge driver of the national economy,” Real Estate Board of New York Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Reggie Thomas told Bisnow in January. “God forbid if something happens. I mean, this is more of a national security crisis more than anything.”

The Gateway Program in New York and New Jersey was put on pause after the federal government removed itself from the project in 2017. Then-President Donald Trump reportedly blocked congressional funding for the project the following year. Since President Joe Biden won the election, New York City real estate has set its sights on continuing the project.

The overall plan will also bring an additional 62,000 jobs into the New York Tri-State Area through construction of a Hartford-to-New York City line and a New London-to-New York City line.

Washington experts told the AP Wednesday that proposed funding for some of the projects in the plan has a good chance of passing through Congress.