The Hudson Tunnel Project, which adds a $16.1-billion rail crossing between New Jersey and New York City, is advancing toward a start of early construction this year. The Gateway Development Commission board voted Sept. 11 to award a pair of contracts for work on the New Jersey approach.

The commission, which was jointly formed by both states to lead the long-awaited tunnel project, selected Conti Civil LLC for a $28.5-million contract for construction of a road bridge to carry Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen, N.J., over the future railroad right-of-way leading into the western tunnel portal from where it splits from the existing Northeast Corridor rail line. The contract also includes utility relocation work. Conti beat out 11 other bidders for the work. 

The Gateway Development Commission board also selected Naik Consulting Group PC as construction manager for this portion of the project, with a contract worth $5.5 million. Naik offered one of 16 proposals for the contract. Megan Strickland, the commission’s deputy chief program officer, said during the meeting that both contract values are below cost projections. 

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation awarded a $25-million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant to commission earlier this year for the Tonnelle Avenue work.

Construction of this portion is slated to start next month, according to Kris Kolluri, the commission's CEO. That aligns with the schedule set in 2021. Another piece of the project, building concrete casings at Hudson Yards on the New York side, is also scheduled to begin this year, he said. The Related Cos., a developer, is managing that portion of work. 

Getting the Tonnelle Avenue piece of the project done “is critical to get the tunnel going,” said Jim Morrison, the commission’s chief technical officer. It will provide access for tunnel boring machines and connect staging areas for construction of the two-tube, 2.4-mile-long tunnel.

The commission has broken the project into nine packages, and procurement is underway for several more pieces of the project. Requests for proposals were issued last month to three shortlisted teams for a $250-million design-build section of the project to stabilize part of the Hudson riverbed. Responses to that RFP are due next month. Responses to a request for qualifications for construction of the New Jersey end of the tunnel are due Sept. 13. And soon, the commission plans to issue another RFQ for the Manhattan end of the tunnel.