Gateway Project dream results in heavy maintenance reality for North River Tunnels

Written by RT&S Staff
Gateway projects
Gateway Development Commission

With the Gateway Project still a pipe dream, Amtrak has decided it needs to fix the 110-year-old “pipes” that run under the Hudson River in New York.

The North River Tunnels have been deteriorating for years and have now forced a call to action. The best option, new tunnels as part of the Gateway Project, is still being blocked by the Trump administration, so Amtrak is now proceeding with a plan to maintain the existing tunnels.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao informed the House Appropriation Committee on Feb. 27 that time is no longer on the side of Amtrak and maintaining the North River Tunnels are now a top priority. The Gateway tunnels would have allowed trains to still run through the existing tubes, but the new plan of action could result in lengthy delays for both Amtrak and NJ Transit. Over 450 trains use the tunnel every day.

“Given the time, cost and complexity of building an entirely new tunnel, the [U.S. DOT] is working with Amtrak to design and validate a faster and more cost-effective method to improve safety and functionality in this tunnel as the first order of business,” Chao told the House Appropriation Committee.

Amtrak has been planning for option B since last fall, and even though nobody knows how much it will cost, Amtrak should have the money for the rehab.

Chao did say other segments of the Gateway Project are moving forward, but did not give a timetable on the new tunnel project. Amtrak wants to run a total of four tunnels when all is said and done.

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