The expected costs of a new Hudson River rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey—part of the wider Gateway Project—have risen after an evaluation of the project’s environmental and economic impacts.
The report, released last Thursday by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT), examines the environmental impact of the project in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to The New York Times, the estimated total costs of the tunnel were calculated to be $13 billion, a drastic increase from the $7.7 billion that had originally been announced. The impact study for the tunnel is a necessary step before construction can begin.
Regarded as one of the most critical infrastructure projects in the U.S., this new tunnel is expected to help replace the century-old one currently used by NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains. Due to the old tunnel’s steady deterioration and damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, local officials are concerned that its continued use will require major repairs. Such repairs will very likely be a major disruption to the region’s transit networks and economy.
Additionally, the security of the project’s funding has become precarious and uncertain under the Trump Administration, which “has not committed to providing federal financing for the tunnel, raising questions about whether it supports the project,” as The New York Times states. Most recently, the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) withdrew its cooperation from the Gateway Program Development Corporation. While this does not mean the project has been denied funding, the DOT said “the decision underscores the department’s commitment to ensuring there is no appearance of prejudice or partiality in favor of these projects ahead of hundreds of other projects nationwide.”
For more on the Gateway program and other transportation plans for the New York metro region, see our previous coverage here.