August 1, 2021
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The Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration jointly issued the final environment impact statement or FEIS as well as a record of decision for the Hudson Tunnel Project on May 28 – a key infrastructure component of the $30 billion Gateway Project. The Hudson tunnels, owned by Amtrak, serve as a critical link for the passenger railroad’s Northeast Corridor.

[Above photo by Amtrak]

The two agencies said in a statement that several hundred page long FEIS document details the potential effects of project construction on the local environment, including wetlands and coastal zones in the New Jersey Meadowlands and the floor of the navigable Hudson River.

Photo by Amtrak

That analysis also confirmed the purpose and need of the project: to preserve existing Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT service between New Jersey and New York and strengthen Northeast Corridor reliability, resiliency, and redundancy by building a second rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

Meanwhile, the record of decision allows property acquisition, advanced engineering design, utility relocation and other pre-construction activities to move forward.

The governors of New York and New Jersey hailed the decision in a joint statement as a “long-awaited step” to the begin building a new tunnel while rehabilitating the existing 110 year-old North River Tunnel under the Hudson River.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) joined forces in July 2019 to sign bi-state legislation to create the Gateway Development Commission to receive federal grants while establishing a funding agreement between the states as a fifty-fifty split of the local share for phase one of the program. That structure is necessary, they said, as Amtrak owns those tunnels – making them assets of the federal government.

Stephen Gardner, president of Amtrak, noted in the same statement that the Hudson Tunnel Project is critical to “improving resiliency and reliability in the heart of the Northeast Corridor.”

Along with the expansion of Penn Station New York, the Portal North Bridge Project and other improvements as part of the Gateway Program, the Hudson Tunnel Project is “an essential and long overdue first step toward replacing the existing configuration with a fully integrated, modernized four-track railroad,” he said.

editor@aashto.org

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