Hudson Tunnel Project Primed for FFGA

Written by Kevin Smith, International Railway Journal
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Courtesy of GDC

NEWARK/NEW YORK- The United States government has notified Congress that it plans to award a $6.88 billion GIG (Capital Improvement Grant) to the Gateway Development Commission (GDC) for the Hudson Tunnel project. The project involves building a new twin-bore tunnel for the Northeast Corridor (NEC) beneath the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey.

The FFGA (Full Funding Grant Agreement), which will be allocated by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will take the total federal allocation to the project to roughly $12 billion. State and local grants are meeting the remaining $4 billion of the $16 billion cost. The government is required to notify Congress 15 days in advance of officially awarding the CIG.

The new 2.5-mile tunnel beneath the Hudson River will dramatically improve the NEC’s capacity, reliability and resilience. Currently both Amtrak and NJ Transit trains are reliant on the 114-year-old, twin-bore North River Tunnel, which is suffering from reliability problems, exacerbated by extensive flooding in 2012 from Superstorm Sandy.

Once the project secures the FFGA, GDC will enter into a formal contract with the federal government that will act as the final financial commitment for the project, meaning that funding cannot be cancelled if there is a change of Administration—if Donald Trump is elected President in November.

GDC has been pushing for the agreement ahead of this November’s Presidential election. Politics has impacted the long-promised scheme in the past: A previous iteration, ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) was cancelled by the Administration of former New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie in 2010. Progress also stalled under Trump.

GDC, which is overseeing construction of the project, awarded a joint venture of Parsons, Mace and Arcadis a $16 billion contract to build the new twin-bore tunnel in March. Work is expected to begin in July for completion in 2035.

The Hudson Tunnel project comprises three parts:

  • Construction of a new, twin-bore Hudson River rail tunnel between the Bergen Palisades in New Jersey and Manhattan.
  • Construction of a new track box underneath Hudson Yards in New York City, which will allow trains to travel between the new Hudson River Tunnel and Penn Station New York.
  • Comprehensive refurbishment of the North River Tunnel.

The Hudson Tunnel project is part of the wider Gateway Program, which aims to increase capacity on a 10-mile stretch of the NEC.

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