September 23, 2013 Construction Begins to Preserve Possible Pathway of New Train Tunnels Into Penn Station, New York

Craig Schulz

Amtrak Contact

212 630.6933


Max Young (Schumer)

202 380.5990


Paul Brubaker (Menendez)

202 224.4744
Aaron Keyak (Nadler)

202 225.5635


Susan Hendrick (Trottenberg)

202 366.0100

Amtrak, Schumer, Menendez and Nadler say new tunnels critical to expand capacity, increase reliability and improve resiliency of rail system

NEW YORK – Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Jerrold Nadler today announced a critical first step towards preserving a right-of-way for new rail tunnels under the Hudson River designed to withstand future flooding, with the start of construction of an 800-foot concrete casing at the Hudson Yards facility in the heart of Manhattan.

The casing is being constructed between 10th and 11th Avenues in order to preserve a possible right-of-way for two new rail tunnels into Penn Station, New York. It is being built beneath the Hudson Yards Development project currently under construction by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. In May 2013, Schumer, Menendez and Nadler announced $185 million from the Department of Transportation’s Super Storm Sandy Relief funding for the project. Construction of the concrete casing is expected to be complete in October 2015.

“The value of the work on this concrete casing cannot be underestimated as it preserves a possible pathway for new tunnels designed to increase the reliability and capacity for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit’s operations and will step up the resiliency of the rail system against severe weather events like Super Storm Sandy,” Coscia said.

“Transit is the lifeblood of the metropolitan area, and this project will make sure one of our critical arteries is in good condition and protected from future breakdowns,” said Sen. Schumer. “When we learned of the possibility of missing this opportunity to preserve the only right- of- way for new tunnels into Penn Station, we moved quickly to secure the needed funding. Today’s groundbreaking is the fruit of that effort. In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, Amtrak’s Gateway Program is critical infrastructure for our homeland security, making expedited construction of Hudson Yards Right-Of-Way Preservation project in the national interest. I am pleased that Amtrak is moving forward with the concrete casing so quickly so that we can preserve a path for new train tunnels into Manhattan.”

“Today’s groundbreaking is about so much more than making way for the Amtrak Gateway tunnels,” said Sen. Menendez. “It’s about celebrating a $185 million investment in our future, in keeping our competitive edge in the New Jersey-New York area, in our preparedness against severe weather events like Super Storm Sandy. We can’t be satisfied with a 19th century infrastructure in a 21st century world and expect to stay competitive in a high-tech, fast-paced, global economy. For the growth of the entire region, it’s critical that we invest in new rail tunnels across the Hudson.”

“Today, we mark an important step in the development of high speed rail in the Northeast Corridor,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “I ride Amtrak every week to Washington. Rail is the most reliable form of transportation, and it should be the main option for all traveling less than 500 miles. Unfortunately, Penn Station is at capacity. By taking this step, we will be able to add new flood-resistant rail tunnels underneath the Hudson that will double the capacity of the Northeast Corridor. I want to thank USDOT for awarding $185 million in Hurricane Sandy Relief funding. But we are not done yet. We must continue to fight for additional funding for the corridor. High Speed Rail is absolutely essential for the economic viability and competitiveness of New York and the entire Northeast.”

“The U.S. Department of Transportation is fully committed to helping the New York and New Jersey region recover from Super Storm Sandy with funding towards rebuilding and strengthening critical infrastructure, including the Hudson Yards project,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Under Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “This project will pave the way for two flood-resistant tunnels that will improve transportation options and ensure that commuters have a back-up in the face of another super storm.”

Damage to the Northeast Corridor (NEC) during Super Storm Sandy was significant and, in some places, unprecedented. The storm surge flooded four of six 103-year old tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers, for the first time in their history. Both Hudson River Tunnels that serve points south of New York were flooded with 3.25 million gallons of brackish water. The flooding of these tunnels halted all Amtrak NEC and NJ Transit service into Manhattan for about five days, impacting nearly 600,000 daily riders and causing significant economic disruption. The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) also suffered a significant loss of capacity and service due to the flooding of two of the four East River Tunnels.

In addition to the lessons learned from Sandy, the Gateway Program has taken on increased urgency in the past year as engineers have determined the only viable route to connect the Gateway Tunnels directly to Penn Station, New York will intersect the Hudson Yards, where Related/Oxford has commenced construction on a multi-billion dollar, mixed-use commercial and residential development project.

Related/Oxford and LIRR, which owns the maintenance yard and facility also impacted by the development project and concrete casing, have been willing and diligent partners in this national transportation priority and homeland security project.

The NEC is at or near capacity at many locations, but nowhere is the demand greater than in Penn Station, New York. When one or both of the current Hudson River tunnels need to be taken out of service – such as in the wake of Super Storm Sandy or a homeland security event – the region loses a vital economic artery and evacuation route. The two existing, 103-year-old rail tunnels into midtown Manhattan often create a severe bottleneck as the only intercity and commuter rail crossing into New York City from New Jersey and were shown to be vulnerable to sea water immersion from storm surges and infiltration.

The placement of the concrete casing involves the excavation of approximately 83,000 cubic yards of soil and bedrock and will be 800 feet long, 50 feet wide and 35 feet tall. The dimensions of the casing have been designed to ensure that the preserved right-of-way will have sufficient space for the future construction of a two-track train tunnel. The contractor selected is Tutor Perini Corporation of California.

Find full project details here.

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