Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Jerrold Nadler on Sept. 23 announced a critical first step toward preserving a right-of-way for new rail tunnels under the Hudson River designed to withstand future flooding, with the start of construction of an 800-ft concrete casing at the Hudson Yards facility in the heart of Manhattan.
The casing is being constructed between 10th and 11th Avenues in order to preserve a possible right-of-way for two new rail tunnels into Penn Station, New York. It is being built beneath the Hudson Yards Development project currently under construction by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. In May 2013, Schumer, Menendez and Nadler announced $185 million from the Department of Transportation’s Super Storm Sandy Relief funding for the project. Construction of the concrete casing is expected to be complete in October 2015.
“The value of the work on this concrete casing cannot be underestimated as it preserves a possible pathway for new tunnels designed to increase the reliability and capacity for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit’s operations and will step up the resiliency of the rail system against severe weather events like Super Storm Sandy,”Coscia said.
Damage to the Northeast Corridor(NEC) during Super Storm Sandy was significant and, in some places, unprecedented. The storm surge flooded four of six 103-year old tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers, for the first time in their history. Both Hudson River Tunnels that serve points south of New York were flooded with 3.25 million gallons of brackish water. The flooding of these tunnels halted all Amtrak NEC and NJ Transit service into Manhattan for about five days, impacting nearly 600,000 daily riders and causing significant economic disruption. The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) also suffered a significant loss of capacity and service due to the flooding of two of the four East River Tunnels.
In addition to the lessons learned from Sandy, the Gateway Program has taken on increased urgency in the past year as engineers have determined the only viable route to connect the Gateway Tunnels directly to Penn Station, New York will intersect the Hudson Yards, where Related/Oxford has commenced construction on a multi-billion dollar, mixed-use commercial and residential development project. Related/Oxford and LIRR, which owns the maintenance yard and facility also impacted by the development project and concrete casing, have been willing and diligent partners in this national transportation priority and homeland security project.
The NEC is at or near capacity at many locations, but nowhere is the demand greater than in Penn Station, New York. When one or both of the current Hudson River tunnels need to be taken out of service – such as in the wake of Super Storm Sandy or a homeland security event – the region loses a vital economic artery and evacuation route. The two existing, 103-year-old rail tunnels into midtown Manhattan often create a severe bottleneck as the only intercity and commuter rail crossing into New York City from New Jersey and were shown to be vulnerable to sea water immersion from storm surges and infiltration.
The placement of the concrete casing involves the excavation of approximately 83,000
cubic yards of soil and bedrock and will be 800 ft long, 50 ft wide and 35 ft tall. The dimensions of the casing have been designed to ensure that the preserved right-of-way will have sufficient space for the future construction of a two-track train tunnel.
The contractor selected is Tutor Perini Corp. of California.