Hopes are high for Hudson River tunnel funding

10 November 2020

Joe Biden’s victory in the American presidential election has raised hopes of a green light for the construction of the Hudson River rail tunnel.

Funding for the project stalled completely under the Trump administration. But this and other infrastructure works are expected to receive the urgently-needed cash under a Biden presidency in its efforts to stimulate American infrastructure and restore jobs.

The proposed US$11.6bn Hudson River rail tunnel (HRRT) project includes a new two-track, single-bore tunnel under the Hudson River; and rehabilitation of the existing 110-year-old North River Tunnel comprising two single-track tubes and currently Amtrak’s only line between New York and New Jersey. (In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused complete flooding of the tunnel; the corrosive chlorides left by the salt water continue to cause damage to the tunnel lining).

In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the urgency of the HRRT as the US seeks to reinvigorate the economy and restore jobs. New Jersey currently has challenging mass-transportation problems and the project will be crucial as it will allow access to New York City jobs. But this access is coming increasingly under threat due to the often unreliable service through the existing rail tunnel.

There is growing confidence that Biden – who knows the project well – will give the green light. In the past, he has called the Hudson tunnels “the most important infrastructure project in the nation”. In 2017, he described the state of American infrastructure as “a disgrace”. If the funding flows as expected, construction on the project could start as early as 2021.