Images of the Gateway Program and Pete Buttigieg (Photos via GDC, Getty, iStock)

Images of the Gateway Program and Pete Buttigieg (Photos via GDC, Getty, iStock)

It’s official: The Gateway tunnel is back on track.

On Friday, federal officials completed their environmental review of the $11.6 billion rail tunnel, giving the project the green light, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move comes after years of delays from the Trump administration.

The plan calls for building a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River, which would connect New Jersey’s Bergen Palisades to New York’s Penn Station. The approval could potentially advance real estate acquisitions and other pre-construction activities, according to officials from the Gateway Development Commission.

The proposed rail tunnel is part of the larger Gateway project — a potentially $30 billion undertaking being overseen by Amtrak as well as officials from New Jersey and New York. Other elements of the program, which aims to double passenger-rail capacity between the two states, include modernizing Penn Station and repairing two century-old tunnels damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

The tunnels have continued to degrade in the years since that devastating storm. Should one have to be closed before a new one is built, rail capacity between New York and New Jersey during peak hours would be reduced by 75 percent, dealing a major blow to the regional economy, experts say.

Officials filed documents for an environmental review of the tunnel in 2016 and expected repairs to be completed by 2018. However, the Trump administration left it out of its budget and the Federal Transit Administration gave it a low priority rating, despite urgent pleas from New York metropolitan area business interests and strong political backing from Democrats and Republicans.

But with support from the Biden administration, the tunnel is moving forward.

“This is a big step for the Northeast, and for the entire country, as these tunnels connect so many people, jobs and businesses,“ Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

[WSJ] — Sasha Jones