(The Center Square) — President Joe Biden visited New York Tuesday to tout how his infrastructure law is making investments in the nation’s transportation system, and deliver a $300 million federal grant for a long-delayed Hudson Tunnel project.
In a speech, Biden highlighted that billions of dollars from the new law are being spent on rebuilding the nation’s roadways, bridges and tunnels, which he said will boost economic growth and create blue-collar jobs.
Biden called the Hudson Tunnel project a “national priority” and part of a much broader plan to construct a “21st Century rail system that is long overdue in this country.”
“This is one of the biggest, most consequential projects in the country,” the Democrat said in remarks from a rail yard. “But we finally have the money, and we’re going to get it done.”
Biden later toured a yard with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Sens. Chuck Schumer. D-NY, and Bob Menedez, R-NJ, and other elected officials from both states.
The president’s New York visit is part of a “Rail Week” tour, including a stop in Baltimore Monday to talk about federal funding to replace a 150-year-old rail tunnel. He is expected to stop in Philadelphia later this week.
But Biden’s visit was also meant to win support for continued infrastructure investments with House Republicans seeking to enact spending cuts in exchange for lifting the federal government’s legal borrowing limit.
Biden said the Hudson project is an example of infrastructure rebuilding that could be lost if spending cuts proposed by the House’s Republican majority are put in place.
The $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package was signed into law in November 2021 after receiving bipartisan support in Congress. It will distribute about $550 billion of new federal spending over five years.
The $16 billion tunnel project, years in the making, calls for renovating the 1910 tunnel that carries about 200,000 weekday passengers beneath the Hudson between New Jersey and Manhattan on Amtrak and NJ Transit. The renovations, which are aimed at easing a tunnel bottleneck, would create about 72,000 jobs, according to the White House.
The $292 million federal grant formally announced by Biden on Tuesday will help complete construction of concrete casing underground on the Manhattan side of the river.
New York officials say the casing will protect the path of the new tunnel from the Hudson River’s edge to New York’s Penn Station.
Overall, New York stands to get more than $13.6 billion from the spending bill over the next five years, including at least $11.6 billion for highway upgrades and $1.9 billion for bridges, according to a breakdown provided by the White House.
The Empire State will also receive at least $2.6 billion to improve water and sewer infrastructure, and at least $100 million to help provide broadband coverage.
The Biden administration’s Infrastructure Report Card gave the state a C- grade, saying there are 1,702 bridges and nearly 7,292 miles of highway in poor condition.