LIRR trains in the West Side rail yard in 2023...

LIRR trains in the West Side rail yard in 2023 where portions of the Gateway Tunnel construction will take place. Credit: Craig Ruttle

The federal government on Tuesday pledged to kick in another $6.9 billion to the “Gateway” effort to build a new rail tunnel across the Hudson River, removing the final obstacle for the long-debated $16 billion project, officials said.

The $6.88 billion grant — the largest ever for a mass transit project — is “the puzzle piece that completes” the federal government’s $12 billion commitment to the project, according to Stephen Sigmund, spokesman for the Gateway Development Commission, the government-sponsored public authority created to head the project. The full funding grant agreement is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden within the next couple of weeks.

Officials with the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, who led efforts to secure the federal funding, said tunnel boring is scheduled to begin this week, and that the project is expected to be largely finished by 2035.

In the works for more than a decade, Gateway aims to construct a 2½-mile rail tunnel that will carry Amtrak and NJ Transit trains between Penn Station and the Secaucus station in New Jersey, and also rehabilitate an existing 110-year-old tunnel across the Hudson River that was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

“If the tunnels were unusable or collapsed, the harm to New York would be enormous,” Schumer said in an interview Tuesday, adding that the project will benefit all Penn Station commuters, including those on the Long Island Rail Road.

“If you’re an LIRR rider, this is good for you, even if you don’t use Gateway, because it means less congestion on the rails,” Schumer said.

New York and New Jersey are sharing $3.8 billion in project costs, and Amtrak is kicking in another $1 billion, according to Schumer’s office.

Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement: "The final investment in the Hudson River Tunnel is a milestone that signifies America’s commitment to transforming our infrastructure, prioritizing passenger rail, and ensuring its future."

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