A critical first step was taken towards preserving a right-of-way for new rail tunnels under the Hudson River designed to withstand future flooding with the start of construction of an 800-foot concrete casing at the Hudson Yards facility in the heart of Manhattan. Construction of the concrete casing is expected to be complete in October 2015.
The casing is being constructed between 10th and 11th Avenues in order to preserve a possible right-of-way for two new rail tunnels into Penn Station, New York. It is being built beneath the Hudson Yards Development project currently under construction. A total of $185 million was given for the project from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Super Storm Sandy Relief funding.
“The value of the work on this concrete casing cannot be underestimated, as it preserves a possible pathway for new tunnels designed to increase the reliability and capacity for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit’s (NJ Transit) operations and will step up the resiliency of the rail system against severe weather events like Super Storm Sandy,” Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia said.
Damage to the Northeast Corridor (NEC) during Superstorm Sandy was significant and, in some places, unprecedented. The storm surge flooded four of six 103-year old tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers, for the first time in their history. Both Hudson River Tunnels that serve points south of New York were flooded with 3.25 million gallons of brackish water. The flooding of these tunnels halted all Amtrak NEC and NJ Transit service into Manhattan for about five days, impacting nearly 600,000 daily riders and causing significant economic disruption. The Long Island Rail Road also suffered a significant loss of capacity and service due to the flooding of two of the four East River Tunnels.
The placement of the concrete casing involves the excavation of approximately 83,000 cubic yards of soil and bedrock and will be 800 feet long, 50 feet wide and 35 feet tall. The dimensions of the casing have been designed to ensure that the preserved right-of-way will have sufficient space for the future construction of a two-track train tunnel.
The contractor selected is Tutor Perini Corporation of California.