New York, New Jersey commit to tunnel funding

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NEW YORK – New York and New Jersey are in when it comes to funding their portions of a new railroad tunnel under the Hudson River.

New York’s $1.75 billion and New Jersey Transit’s $1.9 billion share of the $12.7 billion Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project are set, Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie announced. Additionally, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will find $1.9 billion. The project consists of a new two-track tunnel, the Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, and rehabilitation of the existing Amtrak Hudson River Tunnel.

This commitment follows a 2015 agreement in which the federal government will fund 50 percent of the Gateway tunnel project, an essential portion of the Northeast Corridor that connects New York and New Jersey and is the nation's most urgent infrastructure project. The 2015 agreement also called for the creation of the Gateway Development Corp., as developer of the Gateway project.

"The Gateway Tunnel is critical to the long-term vitality of the entire Northeast region and one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country," Cuomo said. "New York State is stepping up to fund its share of the financial commitment as we rebuild our infrastructure all across the state. Now the federal government must fulfill its commitment to fund the other half and make this urgent, long-overdue project a reality."

"The commitments we make today mark a pivotal milestone in the construction of the Hudson River Tunnel Project, and builds on the work we began earlier this year with the early construction of the Portal North Bridge Project. It positions the project to immediately compete for federal Capital Investment Grant funds," Christie said. "The Hudson Tunnel Project is critical to the regional and national economy and protects against a potentially disastrous scenario of a closure of one of the two tubes of the existing North River Tunnel. Together, with the rehabilitation of the existing tunnel, this project will result in the crucial Northeast Corridor having four tracks between New Jersey and New York under the Hudson River, allowing for increased ridership in the future."

The existing Hudson River Tunnels, which opened in 1910, are the only intercity railroad passenger crossing into New York City from New Jersey. The tunnels were severally damaged as a result of seawater inundation during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Chlorides from the seawater remain throughout the tunnels' structural, mechanical, and electrical infrastructure. Any service outage, planned or emergency, can substantially reduce or suspend rail service, causing catastrophic delays that cascade up and down the Northeast Corridor, impacting 200,000 daily commuter and intercity passenger trips.

In light of the critical nature of the Hudson Tunnel Project, the environmental review process has been expedited and is on schedule to receive federal environmental approvals by March 2018, or sooner.

The new tunnels, originally known as Access to the Region's Core, started construction in 2009, but was stopped by Governor Christie in October 2010 due to fears that the original $8 billion would be subject to huge cost overruns. When construction on this starts it should take at least a decade for all aspects to be completed.

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