President Joe Biden announced on Monday plans to spend $16.4 billion on 25 infrastructure projects along the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s most heavily used rail network.
Speaking at an event in his home state of Delaware, Biden – sometimes called “Amtrak Joe” in reference to his heavy use of the train service during his 36 years as a senator – framed the investments as a matter of national pride. “How can you be a leading country in the world and have a second-rate infrastructure?” he asked. “It’s not possible. … This is the USA for God’s sake. We’re better than that and now we’re proving it.”
Some of the funds for the projects come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law approved by Biden in 2021. The White House noted that the $66 billion allocated to rail projects in that legislation amount to the largest investment in rail in the U.S. since the creation of Amtrak in 1971.
Two aging rail tunnels will account for about half of the new spending. The Frederick Douglass Tunnel in Baltimore will receive $4.7 billion as part of the effort to replace the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, a chokepoint for rail traffic in the Northeast. And the Hudson River Tunnel between New Jersey and New York, which is more than 100 years old, will receive $3.8 billion for rehabilitation and expansion, on top of a $7 billion federal grant announced last summer.
Other projects receiving funding include repairing and expanding Amtrak lines near Penn Station in New York City ($1.6 billion), replacing a bridge over the Susquehanna River ($2.1 billion) and replacing a bridge over the Connecticut River ($827 million).
In a fact sheet, the White House emphasized the job creation associated with the rail infrastructure spending. The Hudson River Tunnel project is expected to generate 72,000 “direct and indirect jobs during construction,” the White House said, while the Frederick Douglas Tunnel program is expected to create 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, with specific programs designed to recruit and train workers from the Baltimore area.