The Gateway Development Commission selected MPA Delivery Partners as its delivery partner for the $16-billion Hudson Tunnel Project to create a new rail tunnel between Northern New Jersey and New York City. MPA is a joint venture of Mace North America Ltd., Parsons Corp. and Arcadis of New York Inc.

Gateway’s board of commissioners voted unanimously Feb. 28 to authorize the contract award to MPA. As the project delivery partner, MPA will provide Gateway with project management services including interface risk management, cost and schedule assurance, safety and quality management, as well as innovation and value engineering, according to the commission. 

Kris Kolluri, CEO of Gateway, said that the contract is important for meeting the Federal Transit Administration’s technical capacity requirements, as well as for ensuring Gateway has access to industry expertise.

“It is fundamental to ensuring that we have access to the right human capital to execute this project in the most efficient and cost effective way,” he said during the meeting.

The board also authorized MPA to proceed with $26.8 million in Phase A task orders through September. The nine task orders include work such as construction management of the Hudson River ground stabilization project, which is needed for a portion of the river before tunneling. 

Gateway then plans to award Phase B task orders to MPA running through 2030 with the option to extend the term for three-year extensions up to three times. The award will require another approval from Gateway’s board. 

Work on the 4.5 miles of tracks and two-tube tunnel is scheduled to complete in 2035. After that, Gateway plans to rehabilitate the existing North River Tunnels. The rehab work is planned for completion in 2038.

Gateway was jointly formed with New York and New Jersey officials to lead the multi-jurisdiction tunnel project and other rail infrastructure improvements along the Northeast Corridor between Newark, N.J., and Penn Station in Manhattan. 

The delivery partner method has been used successfully on large projects overseas such as the 2012 London Olympics. In a joint statement, Gateway commissioners Alicia Glen, Balpreet Grewal-Virk and Tony Coscia said MPA “will be the arms and legs that enable [Gateway] to continue to move this project into high gear as we prepare for heavy construction to start.”

MPA brings previous experience working on other projects with the delivery partner model. Mace Group worked on the 2012 Olympics project, along with other firms including CH2M Hill, where Priya Jain, president of Mace Americas, was working at the time. Mace is also working as part of a delivery partner consortium for a Metrolinx subway project in Ontario, Canada, and on school and hospital projects in Peru. Arcadis has worked similar large delivery partner model projects such as the Lower Thames Crossing and HS2 in the U.K., as well as the Sydney Metro in Australia. Jain says the model is “all about establishing the right culture, behavior and training people” who can pick up the work and run with it. 

“It’s about delivering outcomes,” she says. “We all work for companies with their own agendas, but at the end of the day, it’s one outcome that we are all moving toward.”

MPA has committed to exceeding Gateway’s 20.05% disadvantaged business enterprise goal, according to a Gateway staff presentation at the meeting. To do that, Jain says the project team has already been holding DBE events and reaching out to partners from past projects. Janice Li, Arcadis U.S. rail and transit market leader, says the team already has 25 DBE partners and they will continue outreach efforts to engage more DBE firms with different capabilities. 

“This once-in-a-lifetime project in and of itself will have far-reaching economic and societal benefits,” Li says. “And by exceeding Gateway’s DBE goal, we are accelerating opportunities for disadvantaged businesses.”

Kolluri said procurement for the delivery partner started 18 months ago. Amtrak issued a request for qualifications on behalf of Gateway in late 2022. Gateway shortlisted three teams last May. Besides MPA, they included a joint venture of Bechtel and HNTB and Hudson Delivery Partnership, a team of Atkins North America Inc., Arup US Inc. and The McKissack Group Inc. 

“This contract has been carefully calibrated,” Kolluri said. “And it also preserves total control in the contract and its execution with [Gateway] and the board.” 

During the Feb. 28 meeting, the Gateway board also voted to authorize agreements with New York state, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and New Jersey Transit for the local funding share that will allow Gateway to receive federal loans through the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program. In a statement, Gateway said it expects to close on the loans in the coming months. Mark Fialkowski, president of infrastructure North America at Parsons, said in a statement that the team is ready for “unlocking the full economic and societal potential of the Hudson Tunnel Project.”

Gateway has been advancing other portions of the project recently. Earlier in February, it awarded a contract to Weeks Marine Inc. for the design-build Hudson River ground stabilization project. Gateway has also shortlisted teams invited to submit proposals for tunneling on the New Jersey and New York ends of the tunnel, and early work is underway on non-tunnel construction packages on both sides of the river. 

This story has been updated with comments from the joint venture.