Amtrak Launches Procurement for East River Tunnel Renewal

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
(Amtrak Photo)
Amtrak Photo

Amtrak has begun the procurement phase of the East River Tunnel Rehabilitation Project by issuing a Request for Qualifications for construction services to replace two of the tunnel's four tubes.

The work will modernize the tunnel infrastructure to improve safety, service capacity, reliability, and security. Amtrak said the project will bring the systems used by Amtrak, NJ Transit, and Long Island Rail Road to a state of good repair. Preparatory work is now underway in Sunnyside Yard with major construction slated for early 2024 and continuing through 2027, a release said. 

“This project will renew the East River Tunnel for another century, connect local residents to jobs and economic opportunities, and deliver a modern, more reliable and improved travel experience,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “As we usher in a new era for passenger rail, we are proud to work with our partners at MTA and NJ Transit and thank Senator Schumer and the congressional delegation of New York and New Jersey for their efforts to ensure funding is available.”

The project is eligible for federal funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) FY 2022-2023 Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (FSP-NEC Program).

In response to the FSP-NEC Program Notice of Funding Opportunity, an application for a full funding grant for the East River Tunnel Rehabilitation Project was submitted in March 2023. Amtrak issued this RFQ in anticipation of a funding decision from the Federal Railroad Administration in the fall of 2023.

Amtrak previously applied for and was awarded a grant under the FY 2021 Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program for the East River Tunnel Rehabilitation Enabling Components Project. This effort was intended to ensure that traction power is maintained in all tunnel lines while rehabilitation activities are underway, a release said. 

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who facilitated an agreement in which the MTA committed up to $432 million for the East River Tunnel project, announced additional funding by the State of New York in December of 2021.

The selected construction contractor will rehabilitate both tubes sequentially by demolishing the existing tunnel systems down to the concrete liner and reconstructing all of the systems.

Interested contractors should monitor Amtrak’s Procurement Portal for additional solicitation details and submittal requirements. The work will be done under a Project Labor Agreement as part of a Memorandum of Understanding between Amtrak and North America’s Building Trades Unions covering Amtrak’s major civil engineering projects, a release said. 

This is one of several major infrastructure projects being pursued by Amtrak’s newest department, Capital Delivery. Amtrak also launched the procurement earlier this year for the replacement of the B&P Tunnel in Maryland and the Connecticut River Bridge, with similar procurement opportunities expected in the coming months.