Amtrak is proposing to spend $50 million to begin preliminary engineering and design on two new rail tunnels from New Jersey to New York City called the “Gateway Project.” The new tunnels would significantly increase commuter train capacity by allowing NJ Transit to add an additional 13 trains per peak hour into New York City and it would increase the number of Amtrak trains into New York City by eight per hour.
U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) joined the President/CEO of Amtrak, Joseph Boardman, and Amtrak board member Anthony Coscia to announce the project on Monday.
“The Gateway Project is essential to the future growth and economic development of the entire northeast region and will provide for greater capacity, connectivity and convenience for Amtrak and commuter passengers in the heart of Manhattan. It is a critical first step that we can take now to bring 220 mph Amtrak high-speed service to the Northeast Corridor,” said Amtrak's Boardman.
Increased traffic and congestion into midtown Manhattan threatens the economy of northern New Jersey and New York City. The existing 100-year old rail tunnels into midtown Manhattan are already operating at capacity during rush hour, and ridership is expected to double in the next two decades.
To address these immediate concerns following the cancellation of the ARC Tunnel project and with the encouragement of Senator Lautenberg, Amtrak expedited its plans to build new rail tunnels. They are now moving forward with the Gateway Project to increase the number of trains into and out of New York. The project will also expand intercity and high-speed rail access, providing world-class, high-speed rail service on the Northeast Corridor.
The Gateway Project is expected to increase NJ Transit commuter rail capacity into New York by 65 percent (increase from 20 to 33 trains per hour during peak hours). The new tunnels will connect to the new Moynihan station as well as to a new Penn Station South that is connected to the existing New York Penn station, which has reached its capacity.
Amtrak’s plan also includes a total replacement and expansion of the 100-year-old Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus. There would also be significant infrastructure improvements in New Jersey including expanding track capacity from what is essentially a two-track railroad to an operationally superior four track configuration between Newark and New York Penn Stations.
Amtrak projects that the entire Gateway Tunnel project could be completed in 2020 at an estimated cost of $13.5 billion. Amtrak will take a lead in finding ways to pay the cost and will look for contributions from local, regional and state governments including New Jersey, New York State, New York City, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authoirty (MTA), as well as private investors.
Click here for a comparison of the Gateway Project with the ARC Tunnel project and the proposed MTA 7 line extension to Secaucus.
METRO TV: To watch an AP video of the announcement, click here.
To read how Amtrak's tunnel plan is gaining support, read The Wall Street Journal story here.