Five teams comprising major U.S. and overseas soft-ground tunneling expertise are seeking approval to bid the third and final contract, estimated at $500 million, of an $8.7-billion rail link under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan. The contract, to be awarded next fall, will involve building 14,600 ft of soft-ground tunnels 110 ft under the river. Requesting prequalification for the contract are a joint venture of J.F. Shea, Schiavone and Kenny Construction; a team of S.A. Healy, China Construction America and Halmar; a JV of Spain’s FCC Construction, Austria’s Beton and Monierbau and U.S.-based Ferreira Construction; a team of Spain’s OHL and Tully Construction; and a team of Skanska USA, Traylor Bros. and France’s VINCI. The third phase “is the riskiest from a construction perspective due to soft clay and the river above,” says a project official. “Cross passages between tubes will be risky and ground freezing will likely be used.” After the first two phases of tunneling in Manhattan and New Jersey were bid and awarded, new teams emerged “to include firms with soft-ground and under-river expertise that gives them all a shot,” he says.