The $16.1-billion Hudson River Tunnel project to build a rail crossing between New York City and northern New Jersey is advancing with a record $6.9-billion Federal Transit Administration capital investment grant. On July 8, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, FTA and Gateway Development Commission announced the signing of the grant agreement, plus $4.1 billion in low-interest loans.

The plan calls for 2.4 miles of two-tube tunnel with 28-ft exterior diameters between North Bergen, N.J., and Manhattan, plus construction of a concrete casing at Hudson Yards on the New York side, stabilization of part of the riverbed and other associated infrastructure work, including a total 9 miles of new track. The 114-year-old North River Tunnel, which was damaged by flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, will be rehabilitated following completion of the new tunnel.

The FTA grant, which is the largest awarded to date through the program, adds to the federal portion of project funding with money from 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It builds on $3.8 billion from the Transportation Dept.’s Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail grant program and a $1-billion grant from Amtrak, for a planned 70% federal, 30% local cost share. 

The three newly announced Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Loans from the Transportation Dept.’s Build America Bureau will help New York, New Jersey and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey fund the local share of the project cost with below-market interest rates. 

The funding milestone marks the culmination of nearly two years of work since Gateway took over as the project sponsor, said CEO Kris Kolluri in a statement. 

“After years of planning and persistence, the Hudson Tunnel Project’s days of uncertainty are finally behind us,” he said. 

The tunnel would serve Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and NJ Transit. Gateway anticipates the new tunnel will be in service by 2035 and the rehabilitation of the existing tunnel will finish in 2038. 

“As a primary user of the current tunnels, no one knows better than NJ Transit and our riders about the desperate need for the new tunnels,” said Kevin Corbett, the transit agency’s president and CEO, in a statement. 

Hudson_Tunnel_Project_map_ENRweb.jpgMap courtesy Gateway Development Commission

Earlier this year, Gateway selected MPA Delivery Partners, a joint venture of Mace North America Ltd., Parsons Corp. and Arcadis of New York Inc., as its delivery partner for the project. 

Work is already underway on some parts of the project, including construction of the concrete casings at Hudson Yards led by The Related Cos. and construction of a road bridge to clear a path for the railroad right-of-way leading into the future western tunnel portal led by Conti Civil LLC and Naik Consulting Group PC. Weeks Marine Inc. is scheduled to begin heavy construction on the riverbed stabilization within several weeks. 

Gateway has also shortlisted five teams to build the New Jersey side of the tunnel and three teams for the New York side. The center portion of the tunnel would be built under a separate contract not yet advertised. 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the project “one of the cathedrals of American infrastructure” and added in a statement that it “can demonstrate America’s capacity to build big things together in the 21st century.”