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$23.9B to Go into Hudson Rail Project

Friday, February 5, 2016

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Although it had been reluctant to do so, Amtrak has released cost projections and a timetable of events for the Gateway program, a massive underground infrastructure project meant to double Hudson River rail capacity and relieve congestion.

Amtrak announced that the project, which would also include improving other critical parts of New York’s rail infrastructure, would cost as much as $23.9 billion, The Record reported Jan. 29 via NorthJersey.com.

istock/Andrew Cribb
© iStock.com / Andrew Cribb

The Gateway project, meant to double Hudson River rail capacity, relieve congestion and improve other critical parts of New York’s rail infrastructure, is projected to cost $23.9 billion, Amtrak says.

In explaining the division of costs, the passenger railroad firm said the majority of expenses—about $7.7 billion—would come from the construction of the new Hudson tunnel and repair of the existing tunnel, The New York Times reported.

Another $5.9 billion would be needed for a variety of other related projects, such as expanding Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and replacing rail bridges in New Jersey.

The company warned that these figures are still just projections and that a better idea of actual costs would be possible once it undertakes engineering work and an environmental plan.

All components of the project are projected to be complete within 15 years.

‘Structurally Safe … Less Reliable’

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, who visited the rail tunnel in mid January, is credited with the project gaining momentum last year, when he voiced concerns about the tunnel’s condition.

Foxx was apprehensive not only because of the 106-year-old tunnel’s age but also the damage it had sustained from Hurricane Sandy, such as to electrical systems and concrete bench walls. Damage to the electrical system is reported to continue to cause travel interruptions that leave rail passengers stranded.

During his most recent tour, he asked if the tunnel was still safe, the Times reported. He was told it is “structurally safe, but that service was becoming less reliable.”

iStock/EdStock
© iStock.com / EdStock

The second phase of the project includes expanding Penn Station one block south of the existing station, with ground-level development and new underground tracks, at price of $5.9 billion.

While federal and state officials had agreed earlier to split the costs and create an entity within the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to oversee the plans, Foxx told Amtrak officials he intended to continue to push the plans during the Obama administration’s last year.

 “I’d like to have a financing package that is solid enough by the time we walk out of the door that everyone has the certainty that the project will happen, and the funding set aside to get it done,” he said. 

Despite the other improvements and projects planned for state transportation and infrastructure, Foxx advised officials to remain “laser-focused on fixing what is broken under the Hudson River.”

The Port Authority’s corporation is expected to take over for Amtrak as the project’s lead agency in the next several months.

Deadlines and Dollars

The Hudson rail tunnels, which carry 85,000 commuters daily, are slated to be the primary area of focus for “phase one” of the Gateway project. This includes construction of two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River, which will ultimately allow workers to close and renovate the existing tunnels.

As reported earlier, the existing tunnels have only between 10 to 20 years of service life left before they must be shut down, one at a time, for renovation. Work on the new tunnels is expected to begin soon and to be complete within 10 years. If new tunnels are not built before repairs are needed, rails service will be affected by a drop 24 trains an hour to 6, according to The Record.

According to documents received by the regional paper, the new trans-Hudson tunnel entrance below Manhattan's Hudson Yards, which is already in progress, is slated to wrap up in 2019. Total cost is projected at $326 million.

The construction of new rail tunnels and renovation of existing tunnels, expected to cost $7.7 billion, will not begin until engineering and financing plans are in place; however, construction is anticipated to take about 10 years.

istock/demerzel21
© iStock.com / demerzel21

The new $326 million trans-Hudson tunnel entrance below Manhattan's Hudson Yards, which is already in progress, is slated to wrap up in 2019.

Phase one also includes replacement of the aging portal swing bridge, also a contributor to travel delays, over the Hackensack River. Construction of a new two-track high-level bridge is planned to take five years, beginning in 2017, at a cost of $1.2 billion.

Another project in phase one is the replacement of the Sawtooth Bridge over the Passaic River. Running from 2022 to 2026, the project is estimated at $1.1 billion.

Phase two is expected to begin in 2024 and take six years for completion. Projects include the expanding Penn Station one block south of the existing station, with ground-level development and new underground tracks. An estimated $5.9 billion will be needed for this job.

Construction of a new Portal Bridge South at Kearny is estimated at $1.9 billion.

A $1.8 billion renovation of the Secaucus Junction station will double rail capacity and add a link to the Secaucus Loop.

Construction of the Secaucus Loop itself, at a price of $1.3 billion, will enable point-to-point access from North Jersey into Manhattan.

Another $268 million is marked for the replacement and renewal of the two-track rail embankment between Newark and Secaucus, as well as construction of two additional lines running parallel to the embankment.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Infrastructure; North America; Port Authority of New Jersey; Port Authority of New York; Program/Project Management; Rail; Transportation; Tunnel

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