DOT Moves Gateway Projects Into Funding Queue
"Building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson to allow for the repair of the ancient and Sandy-damaged tunnels is critical for the countless commuters, shoppers, and tourists who are the lifeblood of our regional economy," U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that it has moved two infrastructure projects in the New York City area, the Hudson Tunnel Project and Portal North Bridge, into the Project Development process for New Starts, which are a type of Capital Investment Grant available through the Federal Transit Administration. The projects are critical elements of the Gateway Program, according to DOT, and this is the first step toward qualifying for federal funding for them.
"Building on our previous investments to date, the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking a concrete step toward making a substantial federal investment in the Hudson Tunnel and Portal North Bridge projects, and we're looking forward to continuing to work closely with our partners in New York and New Jersey to make a new rail tunnel a reality. The existing Hudson tunnel is more than 100 years old and was badly damaged by Super Storm Sandy, and if it fails, it would effectively shut down passenger rail service from Manhattan to New Jersey and the southern portion of the Northeast Corridor," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
The tunnel project and bridge will move forward with identifying a specific development plan and, in the case of the Hudson Tunnel Project, completing the environmental review process; the Portal North Bridge has completed the necessary environmental review. DOT's move authorizes the project sponsor, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey along with partners Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT, to begin incurring costs related to the environmental review and engineering and design activities.
"Building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson to allow for the repair of the ancient and Sandy-damaged tunnels is critical for the countless commuters, shoppers, and tourists who are the lifeblood of our regional economy," U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "That is why the U.S. Department of Transportation placing the Gateway Hudson Tunnel program into the Project Development process for New Starts is a huge boost to the project. New Starts will provide a steady and predictable source of federal funds to keep this effort moving down the tracks."
"It's been almost a year since commuter delays caused by Hudson tunnel repairs gave us a glimpse of what will happen if we do nothing to invest in this critical infrastructure," said U.S. Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., who is the ranking member of the Senate subcommittee overseeing America's rail infrastructure. "Today's important announcement shows continued progress by the state and federal partners as the Gateway Program continues to move closer to providing much-needed relief to New Jersey commuters. The fact is, investments like this in the Hudson Tunnel and Portal Bridge are not only vital to the safety and efficiency of our nation's surface transportation network, but they also power the engine that drives our region's economy while boosting job creation. I stand committed to continue working with our partners in moving this vital project forward."
DOT's announcement said the the department received applications to advance the two Gateway projects into Project Development on May 31, 2016, and the determination to go ahead was made within six weeks.
The tunnel will be a new two-track heavy rail tunnel along the Northeast Corridor from the Bergen Palisades in New Jersey to Manhattan that will directly serve Penn Station New York. The bridge project involves the construction of a new two-track fixed structure bridge across the Hackensack River in Hudson County, N.J., along the Northeast Corridor; the existing moveable swing span bridge has only 23 feet of vertical clearance above the mean high water level and must pivot open to allow maritime traffic to pass through, closing the bridge to rail traffic and interrupting operations for both Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT.