Hudson Tunnel Project

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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and NJ TRANSIT are jointly preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the Hudson Tunnel Project. The Project is intended to preserve the current functionality of the Northeast Corridor’s (NEC) Hudson River rail crossing between New Jersey and New York and strengthen the resiliency of the NEC. The Project would consist of construction of a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River, including railroad infrastructure in New Jersey and New York connecting the new rail tunnel to the existing NEC, and rehabilitation of the existing NEC tunnel beneath the Hudson River, referred to as the North River Tunnel.

The North River Tunnel is used by Amtrak for intercity passenger rail service and by NJ TRANSIT for commuter rail service. The approach to the tunnel begins east of NJ TRANSIT’s Frank R. Lautenberg Station in Secaucus, NJ (which is 5 miles east of Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT’s Newark Penn Station). East of the Secaucus station, the NEC has two tracks that approach the tunnel on a raised embankment through the towns of Secaucus and North Bergen, NJ. Tracks enter a tunnel portal in North Bergen, passing beneath Union City and Weehawken, NJ and the Hudson River before emerging within the Penn Station New York (PSNY) rail complex in New York City. The tunnel has two separate tubes, each accommodating a single track for electrically powered trains, and extends approximately 2.5 miles from the tunnel portal in North Bergen to PSNY.  The existing North River Tunnel is a critical NEC asset and is the only intercity passenger rail crossing into New York City from New Jersey and areas west and south.

Service reliability throughout the tunnel has been compromised because of the damage to tunnel components caused by Superstorm Sandy, which inundated both tubes in the North River Tunnel with seawater in October 2012, resulting in the cancellation of all Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT service into New York City for five days. While the tunnel was restored to service and is now safe for travel, chlorides from the seawater remain in the tunnel’s concrete liner and bench walls, causing ongoing damage to the bench walls, imbedded steel, track, and signaling and electrical components.

The damage caused by Superstorm Sandy is compounded by the tunnel’s age and the intensity of its current use (operating at capacity to meet current demands), resulting in frequent delays due to component failures within the tunnel.

Moving Forward

The purpose of the Project is: to preserve the current functionality of Amtrak’s NEC service and NJ TRANSIT’s commuter rail service between New Jersey and Penn Station New York (PSNY) by repairing the deteriorating North River Tunnel; and, to strengthen the NEC’s resiliency to support reliable rail service by providing redundant capacity under the Hudson River for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT NEC trains between New Jersey and the existing PSNY. These improvements must be achieved while maintaining uninterrupted commuter and intercity rail service and by optimizing the use of existing infrastructure.

Prior to issuing funding for the Hudson Tunnel Project, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) must consider the environmental effects of the Project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being prepared for the Hudson Tunnel Project, and the public and agencies were provided with an initial opportunity to comment on the preparation of the Draft EIS through the public scoping process in May 2016. This was the first of many opportunities for public and agency involvement in this important Project.
The existing tunnel portals were constructed in 1910.

The existing tunnel portal was constructed in 1910. Source: Edward Hungerford