The U.S. Senate has approved a measure that includes $15 million for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on a new trans-Hudson rail crossing.

New Jersey Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez said Tuesday that the Gateway Tunnel project is critical to alleviate commuter congestion and boost the region's economy. New York's senators also voiced support.

If approved by the House, the funding would allow Amtrak to begin moving forward.

Lautenberg secured $3 billion in federal funds for a trans-Hudson tunnel known as Access to the Region's Core. But Gov. Chris Christie abandoned that project due to cost overruns potentially totaling billions.

Lautenberg and Christie clashed frequently on the tunnel project.

The aging rail tunnels between New Jersey and Manhattan are operating at capacity during rush-hour.

The proposed Gateway Tunnel project calls for a new Hudson River tunnel to open in 2020, two years later than the scrapped ARC tunnel. It would follow the same basic nine-mile path from Secaucus to New York that had been proposed for the other tunnel.

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