By Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw
BEAR, Delaware (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday announced the latest tranche of federal dollars to modernize key portions of the nation’s busiest rail corridor that stretches from Boston to Washington D.C.
Biden, who said he has traveled through the tunnel “thousands” of times, added that the region represents 20% of America’s gross domestic product and hasn’t seen a “major upgrade” for generations.
The investment will reduce delays, allow businesses to get their goods to market faster, benefit the environment and create a hundred thousand union jobs, the president said.
“If this line were to shut down for one day, it would cost the American economy $100 million a day,” Biden said.
The announcement marks at least the third time Biden has held an event to highlight funding for the Northeast Corridor line, underscoring the president’s personal connection with the project.
Biden has traveled more than a million miles on Amtrak, mostly between Wilmington and Washington as a U.S. senator. Amtrak’s Wilmington station bears Biden’s name.
Biden highlighted $16.4 billion in funding from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law for 25 passenger rail projects on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which supports some 800,000 trips per day.
The money will help rebuild tunnels and bridges that are over 100 years old and upgrade tracks, power systems, signals, stations, and other infrastructure. It will also help fund a study on ways to improve speed and efficiency between New York and Washington.
“The bottom line is that for the over 200 million passengers who ride this rail corridor every year, these improvements are going to shorten travel times and improve reliability,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
The major projects to receive funding are $3.8 billion to help rehabilitate and expand the heavily traveled Hudson River Tunnel between New York and New Jersey, $4.7 billion for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel to help relieve one of the line’s most nagging bottlenecks and $2.1 billion to replace a rail bridge that crosses the Susquehanna River in Maryland to allow for higher speeds.
“The president is a train guy. He believes strongly in improving America’s passenger rail and he knows the Northeast Corridor like no one else,” White House infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Bill Berkrot)