The Gateway Tunnel project may be back on track with a boost from the Biden Administration, but with a 6% higher price tag of $12.3 billion after years of delays, according to project partners.
The project, which includes the construction of a new two-track rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River, the rehabilitation of the existing 110-year-old North River Tunnel, and the completion of the third and final section of the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing would repair damage from 2012 Superstorm Sandy.
Partners who are working on the project said in an updated financial plan that major construction on the new tunnel is estimated to begin two years from now in August 2023. They projected a $12.3 billion price tag in the plan they submitted Aug. 27 to the Federal Transit Administration—approximately a 6% increase from their $11.6 billion estimate from 2020.
Murphy Cites ‘Utmost Importance’ of Project
“The Hudson Tunnel Project is of the utmost importance to the economic well-being of New Jersey, our region, and our country,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a press statement Aug. 27. Murphy said the new financial plan shows New Jersey’s commitment and that of New York, Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to completing “the single largest critical infrastructure project in the United States.”
The governor added that the project ultimately would “provide reliable rail service while creating tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic benefits to the New Jersey–New York area.”
In a press release, partners in the Gateway project said that the $12.3 billion projected overall cost includes $10.1 billion for the new tunnel and $2.2 billion for full rehabilitation of the existing tunnel.
“The Project’s construction cost estimate is down from the $12.7 billion cost in 2017, despite a four-year delay by the prior Administration. However, it represents an increase from last year due to time-driven escalation and the continuing need to push back the calendar for beginning major construction.”
Major Step Towards ‘Shovels in the Ground’
“Construction on the Hudson Tunnel Project cannot begin soon enough for the thousands of NJ Transit customers who must continue to rely on the century-old tunnel daily,” said Balpreet Grewal-Virk, Gateway Commission Co-Chair and New Jersey Commissioner. “This financial plan is a major step toward finally putting shovels in the ground and getting to work building the rail infrastructure we need for the economy of the future.”
The financial plan seeks approximately $5.6 billion from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program. Project partners said these funds would be buttressed by $6 billion in commitments towards estimated construction costs by the State of New York, New Jersey, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to support the Commission’s borrowing of low-interest Federal loans.
Additionally, Amtrak has committed $1.4 billion toward the project’s construction costs and “has moved quickly to acquire real property in Manhattan for the project,” the press release said.
‘Vital’ Railroad Link Under ‘Continual Stress’
The financial plan submitted to FTA said that the 110-year old North River Tunnel directly connects rail traffic between eight states and Washington, D.C., providing connections to trains serving states as far as Florida, Illinois, and Louisiana. The tunnel prior to the COVID-19 pandemic carried 200,000 NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak passenger trips daily on its two aging tracks.
“This vital national railroad link’s internal components are under continual stress and its issues continue to be exacerbated by the on-going impact from major weather events – such as the inundation of corrosive saltwater during Superstorm Sandy,” the plan submitted to Felicia James, FTA’s associate administrator for planning and environment, noted. The age and condition of the existing tunnel often causes one track to be shut down for maintenance or repair, thereby reducing service capacity or resulting in major delays into and out of New York and along the Northeast Corridor.
“Long-term closure of one track could reduce capacity by up to 75% and force tens of thousands of commuters and travelers onto other modes of travel, pushing them onto already congested bridges, tunnels, and streets in both states,” the plan stated. Resulting congestion would harm regional air quality and constrain movement of both people and goods.
Thank you for relying on North-JerseyNews.com to provide you the stories from Washington and Trenton that affect us. Please consider supporting North-JerseyNews.com with a voluntary donation.