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Government issues key decision for Hudson Tunnel Project

The planned $11.6 billion Hudson Tunnel Project reached two key milestones on May 28 when the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) along with NJ TRANSIT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Final Section 4(f) Evaluation for the Hudson Tunnel Project.

The Hudson Tunnel Project proposes to rehabilitate the existing tunnel under the Hudson River that carries Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT Northeast Corridor passenger trains between New Jersey and New York, and construct a new tunnel and associated railroad infrastructure to carry passenger rail trains while the existing tunnel is being rehabilitated.

The final Environment Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the Hudson Tunnel Project from the FRA and TTA are key steps for the project that is a crucial economic link in the U.S. Northeast.

“This is a big step for the Northeast, and for the entire country, as these tunnels connect so many people, jobs, and businesses,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

Approximately 450 trains every weekday use the Hudson Tunnel and, before COVID-19, approximately 200,000 daily passenger trips took place, Reuters reported.

The Hudson Tunnel Project is one component of the Gateway Program, a major project to overhaul much of the aging rail infrastructure in the New York City area.

U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak in April asked Congress for $16 billion for Gateway, including $6.7 billion over five years for the Hudson Tunnel project. The project would result in four modern tubes connecting New Jersey to New York Penn Station in Manhattan.

The 111-year-old New York City-area rail tunnel was damaged in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy flooded parts of the city.

The department noted no federal funding has been dedicated for the Hudson Tunnel project to date. Completion of these two steps is a prerequisite for either agency to direct future federal funding to advance this project through pre-construction activities such as engineering, final design development, property acquisition and construction.

The Hudson Tunnel project includes building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and rehabilitating the existing tunnel, known as the North River Tunnel, once the new tunnel is complete.

When rehabilitation is complete, both tunnels would provide redundant capacity and increased operational flexibility for both Amtrak and NJ Transit.

President Joe Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion jobs and infrastructure spending that includes $39 billion for modernizing the northeast rail corridor.

In total, Amtrak is seeking $31 billion from Congress over five years to overhaul the Northeast Corridor, the Boston to Washington, D.C., corridor that is the busiest passenger rail route in the country.


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