New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy toured the aging North River Tunnel on Monday that carries 200,000 New Jersey Transit and Amtrak passengers each day under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York Penn Station.
“The Gateway Tunnel is the most critical infrastructure project in the country,” Murphy said. “Our future economic viability depends on building a new tunnel as soon as possible.”
The Gateway Program Development Corp. is overseeing $20 billion to $30 billion in infrastructure improvements that would enhance operations for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, both of which run trains along the Northeast Corridor through New Jersey. Chief Spokesman Stephen Sigmund said the organization updated the Hudson Tunnel Environmental Impact Statement for the Federal Railroad Administration in December 2018 and the FRA sent it to the Federal Transit Administration.
The Gateway Program includes the construction of a new two-track Hudson River rail tunnel from New Jersey to Manhattan serving New York Penn Station, the replacement of the 108-year-old Portal North Bridge over the Hackensack River, an expansion of a stretch of the route shared by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit from two tracks to four tracks, the replacement of the Sawtooth Bridge in Harrison, an expansion of Secaucus Station, and an expansion of New York Penn Station.
The current Portal North Bridge opens to allow ships to pass along the river. But the bridge sometimes gets stuck in the open position, halting New Jersey Transit and Amtrak traffic. Amtrak employees manually turn the bridge back into place, using sledgehammers and heavy equipment.
Transportation professionals want to preserve the Northeast Corridor functionality by repairing the existing North River Tunnel and create redundant capacity for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.
Sigmund said there is a Jan. 31, 2019, date for moving the Portal North Bridge project to the next phase of the federal grant funding process.