Sitting on the Gateway Project has given the task a swift kick in the rump.
The Federal Transit Administration originally set a March 2018 deadline for the federal approval of the draft environmental plan for the project. The U.S. DOT still has not granted clearance, which has added another $300 million to the price tag. The plan is to build two new tunnels under the Hudson River and rehabilitate the 110-year-old tubes, and it will now cost $11.6 billion. Further delay could add $1 million a day as the project is vulnerable to changes in commodity prices, the bond market and inflation.
Approval of the draft environmental impact statement would allow the project to complete the environmental process and move to procurement.
However, there could be a change in the approach following recommendations from a report by the London Bridge Associates. The report suggests rehabilitating the tunnels first before constructing the new ones. The original plan called for the completion of the new tunnels and to take the existing tunnels out of service one at a time. The London report says the concrete bed that supports the tracks could be removed and replaced in one weekend. Amtrak and NJ Transit believe repair-in-place simply is not feasible from an engineering standpoint.
Gateway officials, however, plan on discussing the London Bridge strategy at length before making a final decision.