Friday, July 15, 2016

Gateway projects take step toward qualifying for major funding

The existing Portal Bridge requires frequent maintenance and repairs due to its age and intensity of use. The existing Portal Bridge requires frequent maintenance and repairs due to its age and intensity of use. Amtrak

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has moved the Hudson Tunnel Project and Portal North Bridge – both critical elements of the Gateway Program in the New York City area – into the Project Development process for a New Starts Grant available through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).


"Building on our previous investments to date, the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking a concrete step toward making a substantial federal investment in the Hudson Tunnel and Portal North Bridge projects and we're looking forward to continuing to work closely with our partners in New York and New Jersey to make a new rail tunnel a reality," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The existing Hudson tunnel is more than 100 years old and was badly damaged by Super Storm Sandy and if it fails, it would effectively shut down passenger rail service from Manhattan to New Jersey and the southern portion of the Northeast Corridor."

Project Development is the first phase that these projects will be required to complete before a construction grant could be awarded. In this phase, the Hudson Tunnel Project and Portal North Bridge will move forward with identifying a specific development plan and, in the case of the Hudson Tunnel Project, completing the environmental review process. The Portal North Bridge has already completed the necessary environmental review. The move also authorizes the project sponsor, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and its partners Amtrak and New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) to begin incurring costs related to the environmental review and engineering and design activities.

The Hudson Tunnel Project is a new, two-track heavy rail tunnel along the Northeast Corridor from the Bergen Palisades in New Jersey to Manhattan that will directly serve Penn Station New York. It consists of three major elements: the Hudson Yards right-of-way preservation project, the Hudson Tunnel and the rehabilitation and modernization of the existing North River tunnel. Amtrak and NJ Transit operate approximately 450 trains carrying more than 200,000 passenger trips each weekday through the 106-year old North River Tunnel. Construction of a new Hudson Tunnel will enable closure of the existing tunnel for reconstruction and once renovations are complete, the reopening will greatly increase rail reliability and operating flexibility and will provide greater redundancy in the event of malfunction.

The Portal North Bridge Project entails the construction of a new, two-track fixed structure bridge across the Hackensack River in Hudson County, N.J., along the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The existing moveable swing span bridge has only 23 feet of vertical clearance above the mean high water level and must pivot open to allow maritime traffic to pass through, closing the bridge to rail traffic and interrupting operations on the NEC for both Amtrak and NJ Transit. Additionally, the "miter rails," which allow the rails to disengage and the bridge to open and close, permanently restrict speeds on the bridge to 60 miles per hour, while trains can operate at 90 miles per hour on adjacent portions of the NEC. These conditions create bottlenecks along the NEC, especially during peak commute hours. The new bridge will provide enough vertical clearance to accommodate current and forecasted maritime traffic and allow trains to operate at higher speeds.