Biden Budget Routes $1.2 Billion to Big Transit Projects in New York

President Biden’s budget plan, released on Thursday, routes about $1.2 billion to two of the biggest transit projects in New York City: the Second Avenue Subway extension and new train tunnels under the Hudson River.

Because the funding was already allocated in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was signed into law in 2021, it does not require additional congressional approval, said Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader. Mr. Biden’s full budget blueprint, his first released under a divided Congress, will be subject to lengthy negotiations in the House and Senate and stands little chance of becoming law.

The amount is a fraction of what the projects are expected to cost in total, but they will allow for more work to be done on design and planning, Mr. Schumer said in an interview. The allocation also demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to the completion of the projects, he said.

“The red tape is gone and these projects are full steam ahead,” Mr. Schumer said.

Nearly $500 million is set to go toward the planned extension of the Second Avenue Subway to East Harlem, a project estimated to cost $7.7 billion. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, is asking the federal government to cover about $3.4 billion of the total, said Nuria Fernandez, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

The first phase of that subway line, which opened in 2017, took about 10 years and $4.4 billion to build. It has been one of the most expensive transit projects, per mile, in the world.

Mr. Schumer said the M.T.A. would be able to start spending the federal money soon, once a funding-grant agreement is reached with the Federal Transit Administration.

The budget proposal also includes $700 million to build a pair of one-track rail tunnels under the Hudson between New Jersey and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, Mr. Schumer said. That project, known as Gateway, has been in the planning stages for more than 12 years.

Progress on Gateway was stalled during the Trump administration but has gained momentum under Mr. Biden. The infrastructure bill included enough money to cover half of the estimated $16 billion cost of the Gateway tunnels, Mr. Schumer said.

The $700 million allocation toward Gateway in the president’s budget proposal is part of that federal funding. Last month, Mr. Biden appeared at a rail yard in Manhattan to announce the first installment, $292 million, would be contributed to build a concrete casing for the tunnels under the streets of Midtown.

Together, those amounts add up to less than 15 percent of the $8 billion that Gateway’s sponsors hope to receive from Washington for the tunnels. The rest of the cost would be borne by the states of New York and New Jersey and the Port Authority of New York and Jersey.

The Gateway money cannot be spent yet because the sponsors do not yet have a signed agreement with the federal Department of Transportation for all of the federal funding they are seeking. Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, briefed reporters on the budget Thursday afternoon.

Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the Gateway Program, said it would continue to work with the Biden administration and Congress to “keep up the significant momentum on the project and ensure that the tunnel delivers tens of thousands of good jobs, billions in economic activity and real benefits to people’s lives.”


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