Amtrak report details urgent need for Hudson Tunnel repairs

Work can't wait for planned Gateway Project replacement, according to not-yet-finished document reviewed by Associated Press
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An Amtrak worker illuminates damage to the walls of the Hudson River tunnel during a 2018 tour by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Amtrak is soon to release a report detailing the work needed in the tunnel, according to the Associated Press.
Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Amtrak says it needs to make urgent repairs to its existing Hudson River tunnels — a process that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars — to address the potential for catastrophic failure of the century-old passageways between New Jersey and New York’s Penn Station.

The Associated Press reports it has reviewed a not-yet-completed Amtrak study which details the work which will be required. Some of that work will begin soon and take about three years to complete.

Many of the tunnel's problems date from its flooding during 2012's Superstorm Sandy, which left deposits from salt water that have damaged electrical systems, tunnel walls, and other portions of the tunnel structure.

Water issues affecting the tunnel’s electrical power are a significant problem, with water on the tunnel floor affecting the electrified third rail used to power trains that rescued disabled equipment with in the tunnel, and icicles from the tunnel ceiling can touch the overhead power line, causing an arc that melts the wire or its lining. Among the work planned by Amtrak is injection of a waterproof lining behind the walls at the source of leaks; most of these are not in the section under the river, but in the approaches on either side.

The need for the repair work reflects the lack of progress in funding the Gateway Project, which would create two new tunnels under the Hudson. After those bores are complete, the existing tunnels would undergo extensive rebuilding, but even if the tunnel receives funding under the Biden Administration, it is at least a decade from completion.

“If we were further along on Gateway, it might not have been necessary,” Amtrak board chairman chairman Tony Coscia told the AP. “The delay has essentially made this not just a good decision, but virtually an essential decision.”

— The history of the existing Hudson Tunnels and plans for the Gateway Project are detailed as part of a Trains special issue, “Big Projects: Tracks, Trestles, and Tunnels,” available now from the Kalmbach Hobby Store and arriving soon at newsstands and other retail outlets.



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