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Feds rescind Trump rule, giving boost to Hudson rail tunnel

February 17, 2021 GMT

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Federal transit officials have reversed a Trump administration policy from 2018 that supporters of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River say had stalled the project.

The Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday rescinded a rule that didn’t allow states or local entities to use federal loans as part of their funding match to get federal grants.

The FTA had cited a funding shortfall to give the tunnel project low ratings for the past few years, making it ineligible for the key federal grants.

“Federal loans that must be repaid by states and other local entities applying for federal transportation grants have long been considered as part of the local funding match,” said Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a longtime supporter of the project. “The Biden Administration was right to undo Trump’s ill-conceived policy and restore sanity and common sense to the FTA.”

A new tunnel is seen as vital to increasing capacity in the busiest rail corridor in the country, and allowing for the overhaul of the existing, 110-year-old tunnel that is a source of regular delays.

The $11 billion project completed preliminary environmental work nearly three years ago, and awaits final approval to begin construction, which could take six or seven years.