“13 Years Later, Construction to Restart on Hudson River Rail Tunnel” – A New York Times Article

Long Island Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by Patrick McGeehan, and was published to the New York Times on September 11th, 2023. To view the full article, please click here. 

After a 13-year detour, work is about to begin again in New Jersey on a rail tunnel that would run all the way to Midtown Manhattan and end the region’s reliance on a pair of crumbling tubes built more than a century ago.

As soon as next month, construction could start on a highway bridge that would clear a path for massive boring machines to cut through the rocky palisade and under the Hudson River. The $16.1 billion two-track tunnel they would create is the centerpiece of the largest public works project underway in the nation, known as Gateway.

On Monday, the tunnel’s developer, the Gateway Development Commission, awarded the first contracts for construction work on the New Jersey side. Using a $25 million grant from the federal government, the commission’s board approved $47.3 million in contracts to raise the roadway and move utilities that stand in the way.

“The Hudson Tunnel Project is moving rapidly toward construction,” said Alicia Glen, co-chair of the commission. “Once this work starts, we expect that there will be no stopping the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation.”

Conti Civil, a company based in Edison, N.J., will raise a portion of Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen to provide a clearance of 19 feet above the train tracks that would lead to the mouth of the new tunnel, said Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the commission. Those tracks would lie to the south of, and essentially parallel to, the only two tracks that connect New York City to New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast Corridor down to Washington.

Once the avenue is out of the way, the actual digging of the tunnel is expected to begin in 2025. The new tunnel is scheduled to open 10 years later.

If this plan sounds familiar that is because transportation planners have been here before. In 2010, work had already begun to move the same stretch of roadway to provide access to the western end of a different tunnel to New York. But that project, which was known as ARC, for Access to the Region’s Core, was abruptly canceled by Chris Christie, who was then New Jersey’s governor.

Mr. Christie, now a Republican presidential candidate, said at the time that he feared that his state would be saddled with huge cost overruns for ARC, which was then estimated to cost $8.7 billion. Had the project continued on schedule, the new tunnel would already have been in use for a few years.

In July, the federal Department of Transportation announced that it would provide $6.88 billion toward the Gateway project, the largest federal grant to a mass-transit project ever. The states of New York and New Jersey have agreed to split the local share of the cost of the project, though a signed agreement with the federal government is not expected until next year.

The Gateway commission has asked for an additional federal grant of $3.8 billion to help offset the states’ obligations. A decision on that request is expected before year-end.

A new tunnel would provide relief for the existing tubes that opened in 1910 and were flooded with saltwater when Hurricane Sandy swamped the metropolitan area in 2012. Officials of Amtrak, the national railroad that owns those tunnels, have warned for years that the lingering effects of that flooding are threatening the region’s transportation network.

Amtrak plans to take the old tunnels out of service for extensive repairs once the new tunnel is built. If it was forced to close one before then, Amtrak has said, rush-hour capacity for commuting in and out of New York City would be reduced by as much as 75 percent.

The commission also approved a $5.5 million contract for professional services with Naik Consulting Group, which will oversee the construction project. Kris Kolluri, the chief executive of the commission, recused himself from the decision on the contract with Naik because of a previous financial tie to an executive of the company, Mr. Sigmund said.

“This is the start of the Hudson Tunnel Project and we are not waiting for 2024,” Mr. Kolluri said. He said that work would be underway on five of nine parts of the Gateway project by the end of this year.

Long Island Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by Patrick McGeehan, and was published to the New York Times on September 11th, 2023. To view the full article, please click here. 

John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration across New York and Florida. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: John@LIConstructionLaw.com or (631) 608-1346.

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Patrick McGeehan writes about transportation and infrastructure for the Metro section. He has been a reporter for The Times since 1999 and has covered Wall Street, executive pay, transportation, the New York City economy and New Jersey. More about Patrick McGeehan