FTA bestows low grade to N.Y./N.J. Hudson River rail tunnel project

The medium-low rating would keep the project from receiving needed Capital Investment Grant funding

March 18, 2019
Hudson River Tunnel project Amtrak

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) rated the Hudson River rail tunnel project between New York and New Jersey with a medium-low grade in its most recently released ratings for infrastructure projects around the country.

According to the Associated Press, this is the same rating the agency gave the project several months ago, and the move deems the $13 billion tunnel project ineligible for Capital Investment Grants. The tunnel project partners—which include New Jersey Transit, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Amtrak—are seeking the grants to help offset costs.

The plan put forward by New York and New Jersey was that the states would pay between $6 billion to $7 billion using federal loans in order to cover about half the project cost, while the federal government would provide the rest of the funding in grants. The U.S. DOT, however, has said that the states need to make a greater financial commitment to the project, and that the most recently submitted financial plan did not address the major concerns laid out by the FTA in the last rating.

The century-old tunnel carries around 200,000 passengers daily, operating at peak capacity. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy severely damaged the structure's aging electrical system and crumbling concrete walls. Amtrak has estimated that one of the two tubes in the tunnel could fail within roughly the next decade, which would cut rail capacity between the states by 75%. 

The Hudson River rail tunnel project is part of the larger Gateway Program, which seeks to address the growing number of commuters entering New York City from New Jersey in addition to some of the region’s deteriorating infrastructure. This also includes $1.5 billion replacement of the aging Portal Bridge, which hosts about 450 trains per day traveling between Newark, N.J., and Penn Station in New York.


Source: Associated Press