Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gateway Project Gets A Boost

The Gateway Tunnel project, which is being sought by Amtrak as a way to vastly improve high speed rail along the Northeast Corridor by doubling capacity into New York Penn Station under the Hudson River as well as provide New Jersey Transit with increased capacity, got a boost when Amtrak and the federal government signed off on a deal to fund the first phase of the project.

The first 800 foot segment through the West Side of Manhattan secures space for the tunnels where they enter Manhattan under the Hudson Yards that are being developed by the Related Companies will get underway this summer.

In a breakthrough promoted by Sen. Chuck Schumer, work is to start this summer on a Washington-funded, 800-foot-long “box tunnel” right under Related’s Hudson Yards site, where construction has begun on a 900-foot office tower that will be home to Coach, Inc.

Schumer hailed the agreement as “a red-letter day for the future of New York-New Jersey mass transit.” He told The Post, “It means the federal government is finally committed for the first time since ARC was killed to building a new tunnel.”

ARC was the four-track project that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie axed in 2010 over a cost estimated as high as $15 billion, which would have been largely paid for by the Port Authority.

No firm estimate for Amtrak’s proposed two-track Gateway project was immediately available, but the railroad expects the cost to be mostly borne by the feds.

The box tunnel will not be designed to carry trains immediately, but will serve as a shell for the Manhattan end of the Gateway tunnel Amtrak hopes to build later.

The box will hold the space for a rail link between the future Hudson tunnel and existing tracks at Penn Station — and for the proposed Moynihan Station if it’s ever built.

Although Gateway might not be built for years, the box tunnel — to be built astride a Long Island Rail Road right-of-way — must be built immediately because it will be impossible once Related constructs a deck over the rail yard.

Instead, Related will build the box tunnel this year and next simultaneous with construction of the Coach tower and other elements of the 26-acre site, Schumer said.

Amtrak will pay for the project, estimated to cost from $120 million to $150 million, out of funds it will receive through the Federal Transit Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation.
It's still years away before the full project is funded, let alone built, but this segment guarantees that the space is accessible and able to handle the Amtrak-led project.


 


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