Biden touts billions for northeast US rail corridor

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday will announce the latest tranche of federal dollars to modernize key portions of the nation’s busiest rail corridor that stretches from Boston to Washington DC.

Biden is highlighting $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 in a region that represents 20% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

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 speeds and efficiencies 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 getting 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.

Monday’s event marks at least the third time Biden has held an event to highlight funding the Northeast Corridor line, underscoring the president’s personal connection with the corridor.

Biden has traveled more than a million miles on Amtrak, mostly back and forth between Wilmington and Washington as a U.S. senator. Amtrak’s Wilmington station bears Biden’s name.

“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 Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Lincoln Feast)