Underwater passageways connecting New York and New Jersey still remain damaged after Superstorm Sandy, but The Hudson River Tunnel Project could get them back on track. The project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement was approved this week by the United State Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration, a crucial prerequisite for federal funding.
The much-needed rehabilitation project will remediate the existing North River Tunnel and construct a new passageway beneath the Hudson River. This milestone inches the project one step closer to a finalized design and commencement of construction.
“This is a big step for the Northeast, and for the entire country, as these tunnels connect so many people, jobs, and businesses,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. “This decision is also an important reminder that we are still capable of working together to advance ambitious projects that can make life better for people, connect communities, and deliver a stronger future.”
The existing North River Tunnel comprises two separate tubes used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. Each tube contains a single track and extends approximately 2.5 miles from North Bergen, New Jersey, to Penn Station in Midtown, Manhattan. While badly damaged by hurricane storm surges in 2012, the tunnel is deemed safe and remains in use. Despite ongoing maintenance, comprehensive repairs are required to preserve public safety and enhance infrastructure lifespan.
To perform requisite repairs, the project team estimates closure of each tube for more than one year, taken out of service one at a time. A specific anticipated timeline was not immediately available.
To avoid full disruption of rail service, the project calls for construction of two new rail tubes to be named the Hudson River Tunnel. The new tunnel will supplement the existing level of train service while the damaged tubes in the North River Tunnel are closed. Once the North River Tunnel rehabilitation is complete, both the old and new tunnels will be in service.
Total construction costs are estimated at $11.6 billion. To date, no federal funding has been allocated toward completion of The Hudson Tunnel Project. The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration must now consider how much federal support the project will receive.