On the same day that President Joe Biden was in New York City to announce $292 million in funding for the Gateway Rail Project many professionals in the tunneling industry were gathered just a few miles away for the George A. Fox Conference at the New York Hilton Midtown.
The President’s visit did create a scheduling conflict for Kris Kolluri, CEO, Gateway Development Commission who had been scheduled to present at the Fox Conference on the project, but was pulled away to speak with the President about the project.
Eric Daleo, chief program officer and Megan Strickland, deputy chief program officer of the Gateway Development Commission presented in place of Kolluri.
In light of the expected announcement of funding, the Gateway Development Commission, which is comprised of representatives from the New York, New Jersey and Amtrak, is building the legal and financial capacity to manage the project.
The Associated Press reported that the $292 million mega grant is part of $1.2 billion in mega grants being awarded under the 2021 infrastructure law.
The grant will be used to finish the Hudson Yards “tunnel box” concrete casing, a project that was started in summer 2013 to preserve the route of the Gateway Tunnel from Penn Station to the Hudson River as foundations were built for the Hudson Yards project.
“We are looking at this as an early action construction project that will move ahead this year,” Daleo said. “It is a critical project that preserves a right of way and allows for development above ground and leads the other packages.”
The Hudson Yards Concrete Casing — Section 3 is one of nine nationally significant projects selected for this first year of the program out of 100 applications, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. This grant will be funded over the course of four years from fiscal year 2022-2025.
Another early construction project is at the Tonnelle Ave. Bridge. It was the first project that was undertaken 10 years earlier when the project was still called the Arch Project before it was cancelled. Daleo said the Gateway Development Commission planned to issue request of proposal for construction management and invitation for bid for services within a month for the Tonnelle Ave. Bridge.
The Gateway project will renovate the 1910 tunnel already carrying about 200,000 weekday passengers beneath the Hudson between New Jersey and Manhattan, a long-delayed upgrade after decades in which the government underfunded infrastructure.
Arnold Dix, president of the International Tunnelling Underground Space Association Barrister, Scientist & Professor of Engineering Of Counsel, White & Case gave the keynote presentation at the Fox Conference in which he emphasized the need for the industry to make a case to Biden and other world leaders that tunneling an underground construction provide sustainable solutions for society.
“It’s no accident that President Biden is here meeting about the projects that you are working on,” said Dix. “The sustainability agenda is listed as part of the United States’ national security agenda. That tells you that the money and resources that you need to deliver your projects are nearby. That challenge is to make sure that your projects address the national security agenda in the delivery of health and wealth and well-being for your communities.”
The grant announced by Biden would also be used to help complete the concrete casing for an additional rail tunnel beneath the river, preserving a right of way for the eventual tunnel. In total, the project is expected to cost $16 billion and help ease a bottleneck for New Jersey commuters and Amtrak passengers going through New York City.
Other projects to receive mega grants include the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Kentucky and Ohio; the Calcasieu River Bridge replacement in Louisiana; a commuter rail in Illinois; the Alligator River Bridge in North Carolina; a transit and highway plan in California; and roadways in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Mississippi.