Gateway Development Commission has shortlisted three teams in its search for a project delivery partner to help it deliver a $16-billion rail tunnelproject connecting New York and New Jersey under the Hudson River.

The commission selected a joint venture of Bechtel-HNTB; Hudson Delivery Partnership, a team of Atkins North America Inc., Arup US Inc. and The McKissack Group Inc.; and MPA Delivery Partners, consisting of Parsons Transportation Group of New York Inc, Arcadis of New York Inc. and Mace North America Ltd. to submit proposals, according to a May 22 notice

In a statement, Catherine Cronin, senior vice president of Parsons' connected communities business unit, highlighted that this would be the first implementation of the project delivery partner model in the U.S. and said their team "has the experience to deliver an important update to a centuty-old rail tunnel that is relied on by hundreds of thousands of commuters every day." Representatives from the other teams did not immediately share comments on their inclusion. 

The request for qualifications drew “a robust response,” says Stephen Sigmund, head of public outreach for Gateway. But he declined to say how many firms or teams responded to the RFQ call.

The project delivery partner would provide technical, managerial, financial and organizational experience to help receive federal funding and efficiently deliver the project, commission officials have said. 

Gateway is gaining ground in federal financing to help pay for the project. On May 19, Morteza Farajian, executive director of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Build America Bureau, notified the commission that officials were advancing the project to the creditworthiness review phase for a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program loan. 

The review will involve an independent financial advisor selected by the agency. Sigmund says the process is expected to take about six months. If the review goes well, Gateway would be invited to apply for the loan. 

The Gateway Development Commission was jointly formed by New York and New Jersey to be responsible for rail infrastructure projects between Secaucus Junction in New Jersey and Penn Station in Manhattan. The commission formally became the tunnel project sponsor last year, enabling it to seek billions of dollars in federal funding. It is also heading the $1.7-billion Portal North Bridge replacement in the New Jersey Meadowlands. 

The Hudson River tunnel plan calls for construction of a two-tube, 2.4-mile-long tunnel, plus repair of Amtrak’s existing North River Tunnel, which opened in 1910 and was damaged during Hurricane Sandy to ensure resilience of the Northeast Corridor rail line between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Last month, the commission announced that it was revising its contract packaging to promote competitive bidding. The plan now calls for a total of nine contract packages, covering items like river bottom stabilization, three sections of tunneling, tunnel fit-out, the existing tunnel rehabilitation plus construction of retaining walls and bridges in New Jersey and a concrete casing at Hudson Yards in Manhattan.

The commission has said major construction could start as soon as next year, which would put it on track to complete the new tunnel in 2035 and finish repairs on the North River Tunnel in 2038.