The proposed Hudson River Tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey suffered another setback earlier this week when the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) gave the $10 billion project a “Medium-Low” Overall Project Ranking, making it unlikely that necessary funding will be available to get the project moving. To be eligible for FTA Capital Improvement Grants, projects must receive a “Medium” ranking or better.
In a statement, Steven M. Cohen, chairman of the Gateway Program Development Corporation (GDC), said: “The Department of Transportation continues to ignore the most urgent infrastructure project in the nation, despite our clear improvement to the plan to finance and build the Hudson Tunnel Project.
“We reduced the estimated cost by $1.4 billion, secured hundreds of millions in additional funds from Amtrak, and decreased our grant request of the Federal government from 49% of the project to 44%.
“Despite these efforts, the Hudson Tunnel Project remains mired in Federal bureaucracy, while just last week, this 109-year-old tunnel again wreaked havoc on the lives of hundreds of thousands of travelers.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to move this project forward, because it is the responsible thing to do for passengers and for the nation’s economic future. However, we ultimately need the Federal government as a partner to make this vital national project a reality.”
The Gateway Program involves upgrading a 10-mile stretch of rail infrastructure along the heavily-trafficked Northeast Corridor. It includes the new Hudson River Tunnel, the rehabilitation of the existing River North Tunnels that opened in 1910, and replacement of the Portal Bridge in New Jersey. The $1.5 billion Portal North Bridge project was given a “Medium-High” Overall Project Ranking by FTA. The bridge project would replace the current swinging bridge over the Hackensack River that can be the cause of bottlenecks with a fixed-span bridge.
Said Cohen: “We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation has taken this major action toward funding the Portal North Bridge Project. Along with the Hudson Tunnel Project, the Portal North Bridge is a critical part of replacing a 109-year-old unreliable system.
“Now we need the new tunnel to also move forward to finally provide 21st Century rail transportation into and out of the nation’s economic heart.
“Last year, GDC released a study demonstrating almost 2,000 hours of lost time for passengers due to major delays at Portal and the existing Hudson Tunnel. It’s long past time to replace these antiquated workhorses.”
The FTA Annual Report on Funding Recommendations can be found here: https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/funding/grant-programs/capital-investments/147311/fy21-annual-report.pdf