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A House Appropriations subcommittee OK’d an increase in transportation infrastructure funding Thursday, including rail funding that could be used for critical repairs in the Hudson River tunnel.

The $137.1 billion Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations (HUD) Bill, one of the 12 congressional appropriations bills that make up the federal budget, includes $700 million for Northeast Corridor Grants, a $50 million increase over the current year appropriation, as part of a $2 billion Amtrak spending item.  The Corridor Grants have been cited as possible funding sources for the Gateway project, which includes building a new railway tunnel between New York and New Jersey.

The appropriations bill has a long way to go. Even it if gets through the full Appropriations Committee and passes the Democrat-controlled House, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate will have its own Transportation-HUD bill. Plus, President Donald Trump has opposed the project.

NJBIA considers the project critical to New Jersey’s economic future. Both of the existing 110-year-old tubes in the existing tunnel are in desperate need of repair, which will require closing at least one completely. Considering that 200,000 passengers ride an Amtrak or NJ TRANSIT train through the tunnel every day, closure would create a major disruption.

A Preventable Crisis, a report by the urban research and advocacy organization Regional Plan Association, described the dire consequences of a tunnel closure without a new tunnel to take its place. Such a move would result in $12.5 billion in lost time for workers, a $1.2 billion increase in freight costs, and $1.7 billion in increased air travel costs, the report said.

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