East River tunnels project gets $1.3B in federal funds, Schumer says – Newsday

A long-delayed plan to fix the storm-damaged East River Tunnels, used by the LIRR and other railroads, will begin next year with $1.3 billion in federal funding that will cover roughly the entire cost of the project, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The new grant is part of the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill that will allow repairs to take place with minimal disruption to Long Island Rail Road commuters, said Schumer, who is expected to make a formal announcement about the financial boost on Sunday in Mineola.

The project, which ballooned from Amtrak’s original estimate of $300 million to $1.6 billion, is expected to start next year and end in 2027.

During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, two of the four single-track underwater tubes were inundated with millions of gallons of corrosive saltwater that continues to damage infrastructure.

Opened in 1910, the tunnels connect Penn Station to points east, but also are used by NJ Transit and Amtrak, which owns and maintains them.

The projects will rebuild tracks 1 and 2 while making the tunnels more resilient to water and fire, according to Schumer.

Drainage systems, signals and traction power also will be replaced and bench walls will be reconstructed, according to Amtrak.

“Long Island commuters can breathe a sigh of relief that the disruptions we saw in the past will not continue and that this tunnel will now be in good shape for decades to come,” Schumer told Newsday on Saturday.

All 453 trains that run through the tunnels will continue to run on time during the repair work, Schumer said.

A $432 million federal grant had been secured for the East River project earlier, plus money from the three agencies that use the tunnels: $55 million from Amtrak; $175 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and $85 million from NJ Transit, according to Schumer.

The East River award follows two other federal infrastructure funding announcements made this week that together total about $8.5 billion.

On Saturday morning, at an East Harlem event attended by Gov. Kathy Hochul, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Schumer announced $3.4 billion in federal money would go toward extending the Second Avenue subway north from 96th Street to 125th Street in Harlem.

Hochul praised the additional money for the Second Avenue project that will “right the wrongs of the past” and bring “transportation equity” to a community that needs it. 

On Friday at Hudson Yards, Schumer announced another $3.8 billion would go toward a critical project called Gateway that links Manhattan to New Jersey.

The MTA declined to comment Saturday, deferring to Amtrak because it’s their project. Amtrak also declined to comment about the additional federal funding on Saturday.


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