(Bloomberg) -- The long-delayed $16 billion rail tunnel project connecting New York and New Jersey has received the final nod from the federal government that it will be receiving its $6.88 billion full funding agreement. 

“It has taken so much work, and so many steps that I feel very exhilarated, but not surprised,” New York Senator Chuck Schumer said in a phone interview. “And now it’s there even if there is a new president, the money has to be used for this.” 

The project seeks to ease congestion under the Hudson River by adding a new tunnel and making upgrades to the more than a century-old existing channel. The rail structure that runs up and down the US East Coast comes to a choke point at the border of New York and New Jersey. 

Both NJ Transit and Amtrak trains now have to pass through a single tunnel to enter Manhattan. One minor disruption to that narrow passage can ripple across both agencies and cause headaches for commuters.

The Gateway plan is designed to alleviate that stress by providing a critical update for the Northeast corridor — Amtrak’s busiest route — which carries more than 2,200 daily trains and stretches from Washington to Boston.

Gateway’s sponsors had been rushing to get the full funding agreement in place ahead of the November election. Politics have derailed the effort in the past. In 2010, then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceled the project, saying the state couldn’t afford it. The Gateway project was proposed a year later but eventually stalled under the Trump administration.  

“The full funding agreement for the $6.88 billion CIG grant is the puzzle piece that completes $12 billion in federal funding for the Hudson Tunnel Project, the largest ever federal commitment to a mass transit project,” Gateway Development Commission spokesperson Steve Sigmund said in an emailed statement, referring to the capital investment grants.

The federal government is required to notify Congress 15 business days in advance that it plans to award to funding to the project. 

The massive plan includes construction of a new underwater tunnel as well as replacement of the existing one that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The Gateway tunnel is one of a number of efforts to revamp the nation’s roads, rail and bridges that President Joe Biden has been touting. Biden has said the project is key for the entire Northeast region.

(Updates with details on Hudson River chokepoint in third paragraph.)

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