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Amtrak Drops $300M on Land Acquisition, Prep for Gateway Tunnel Project

New York

This might seem like déjà vu, but a new effort is being mounted to kickstart the proposed Gateway tunnel, which would link New York and New Jersey. But it's a long way from starting. Amtrak chairman Anthony Coscia says an environmental review process may begin as early as this fall. Amtrak has already shelled out $300M acquiring land and prepping for work. But it has yet to gather the $15B needed to fund the entire Gateway project, Crain's New York reports. Coscia's banking on regional power brokers realizing the project is critical. The existing cross-Hudson tunnels are a century old and aging poorly. If a next-generation solution isn't initiated soon, officials believe one or both tunnels will need to be closed for repairs in the next 20 years, which would affect rail travel across the eastern seaboard and result in major economic problems. Shutting down one tunnel would reduce the capacity from 24 trains an hour to just six trains. Peter Rogoff, the undersecretary of transportation for the Obama administration, describes the potential loss of a tunnel as cataclysmic. He believes Gateway is the country's most important macro rail project. The Gateway concept was introduced in early 2011. In 2012, Sen. Charles Schumer predicted a 2013 groundbreaking, but that was sabotaged by Superstorm Sandy. On the bright side, federal relief money helped fund placeholder "tunnel boxes" under Related's Hudson Yards project. [Crain's]