In its latest push for rail improvements, the Biden administration has announced billions of dollars in federal funding for more than two dozen projects along Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor.
Paid for through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the White House on Monday announced $16.4 billion in grants to replace tunnels, tracks, bridges and other rail infrastructure along the critical corridor — the nation’s busiest for passenger rail — stretching from Washington, D.C., to Boston.
GABBY JONES/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES
The announcement includes an additional $3.8 billion in grant money to support and speed up the replacement of the 113-year-old Hudson River tunnel, a vital Amtrak and commuter rail artery in and out of New York’s Penn Station.
The White House on Monday also announced $4.7 billion for the design and construction of the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel replacement, which will be known as the Frederick Douglass Tunnel.
That proposed project will see the replacement of a 150-year-old tunnel that regularly contributes to delays along the Northeast Corridor.
Once complete, trains will no longer have to slow down to 30 mph in Baltimore — the slowest section of track between the Washington area and New York, used by Amtrak and Maryland commuter rail trains, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“This outdated infrastructure leads to over 4,000 hours of delays each year on Amtrak,” President Joe Biden said Monday during remarks in Delaware announcing the grants.
Eventually, trains will be able to run as fast as 110 mph through the corridor.
In all, Monday’s announcements include funding for 25 passenger rail projects along the Northeast Corridor, supporting the replacement or rehabilitation of at least a dozen major bridges or tunnels, many of which are over a century in age.
More than $2 billion will go to replace Maryland’s Susquehanna River Rail Bridge, adding track capacity and allowing trains to increase speed from 90 mph to as much as 125 mph and 160 mph in certain spans.
The Susquehanna River Rail Bridge in Maryland. AMTRAK
This funding for rail, dispersed through various grants from the Federal Railroad Administration, is just the latest push by the Biden administration to overhaul the nation’s rail system.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law contained a total of $66 billion for rail. Just last month, the White House announced 70 other projects funded through the law.
Also, in a wide-ranging interview last week with TPG’s Clint Henderson, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke to the importance of work like the Hudson River tunnel project in improving the flow of trains in and out of New York and, ultimately, along the Northeast Corridor. It’s just part of a huge investment by the White House in trains.
“Taking care of the basics, improving the reliability of our rail network by investing in maintenance,” Buttigieg said. “It should’ve been done a long time ago.”
These additional improvements up and down the rest of the corridor should help Amtrak in a variety of ways, too. For one, Amtrak officials have said the rail company’s oft-delayed new Acela trains will require infrastructure improvements to reach the intended top speeds of 160 mph.
DANIEL SLIM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Federal money for New York subway extension announced
In recent days, the White House also announced funding to support an extension of New York’s subway system into Harlem.
The Federal Transit Administration has authorized $3.4 billion in grant money to fund phase two of the Second Avenue Subway extension.
The project will see the Q Line extended by 1.8 miles along the east side of Manhattan to 125th Street and relieve overcrowding on the aging Lexington Avenue Line.
CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY
As part of the extension, subway trains will make stops at three new stations at 106th Street, 116th Street and 125th Street in East Harlem, according to New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
This grant will provide $3.4B in Federal funds to extend the Q train to three brand-new stations at 106 St, 116 St, & 125 St in East Harlem.
Learn more: https://t.co/fCnOdrJg5a
— MTA (@MTA) November 6, 2023
A previous phase of the extension reached 96th Street.
“This project has been decades in the making, and will extend the existing line to East Harlem, an area often considered a transit desert,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement.
This most recent package of grant funding announced by the White House is just the latest show of support for rail as the federal government doles out tens of billions of dollars authorized in the 2021 infrastructure law.
Combined with private rail projects like the recently opened Brightline extension to Orlando International Airport (MCO), it’s safe to say it’s a time of rapid change for our nation’s rail system.