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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Amtrak ups contribution to Gateway project; overall price revised downward NEWSWIRE

Amtrak ups contribution to Gateway project; overall price revised downward NEWSWIRE

By | August 26, 2019

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NEW YORK — Amtrak has increased its funding commitment for the stalled Gateway tunnel project, which has seen the estimate of its overall cost move downward. The agency directing the project is hoping those two factors might increase the prospects of receiving federal funding.

NorthJersey.com reports that Amtrak has increased its commitment by $600 million, while the overall cost of the project is now $11.3 billion, a decrease of $1.4 billion from prior estimates. The figures came in a Friday conference call involving representatives of the Gateway Program Development Corp., Amtrak, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

As a result, the Gateway agency has submitted an updated application for a Federal Transit Administration grant, seeking $5.4 billion, less than half of the project and $1.4 billion less than its previous request in 2018.

Frank Sacr, interim executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corp, said he hoped the plan “will be attractive to the local partners and we believe also to the federal partners, and to the market.” He said construction costs were reduced by reorganizing the project into a smaller number of large packages for construction.

The project would build a new tunnel for Northeast Corridor traffic under the Hudson River and rehabilitate the existing tunnels that connect New York and New Jersey. It has been stalled since the Trump administration blocked a deal negotiated during the Obama administration, with the Department of Transportation saying no such agreement existed and labeling the matter “a local project.” [See “Talk aside, action on Gateway tunnel still stalled,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 4, 2018.]

The states of New York and New Jersey recently created a joint agency, the Gateway Project Development Commission, designed to oversee and fund the project. [See “Gateway commission bills pass in New York, New Jersey,” Trains News Wire, June 24, 2019.] That move made the commission eligible for state, federal, and local grants to fund the project.

22 thoughts on “Amtrak ups contribution to Gateway project; overall price revised downward NEWSWIRE

  1. NY and NJ major infrastructure costs are never what they are initially predicted to be . The usual multiple is 3X, for all of the “unforeseen factors” such as endless environmental impact studies, union overtime excesses, multiple layers of consultants, and otherwise well-concealed kickbacks and payoffs. Once again, I point to the East Side Access project, and its “mentor”, the Big Dig.

  2. It would be cheaper to build a bridge over the Hudson River than tunnelling beneath it. The bridge would connect with the Harlem line to Grand Central Terminal. Trains terminating in New York City would be switched from the tunnel and Penn Station to the bridge and Grand Central Terminal. Traffic in the tunnel and Penn Station would be relieved for through trains.
    Grand Central Terminal would once again host intercity passenger trains on a permanent basis. Trains terminating from and originating for the south at Grand Central would open space in the tunnels and Penn Station.

  3. @Penelope Vinson
    It would be much cheaper to rehab the current tunnels and upgrade penn station for more capacity..

  4. Braden
    The 2 existing tunnels are at capacity now. if one was taken out of service it would reduce traffic by close to 70% since trains would stack up on one end while trains moving the other way would use the remaining tunnel.
    I believe the plan is to build the new tunnels and then rehab the existing tunnels giving much more
    capacity than now exists.

  5. @Charles_Landey, I have been to Midtown Manhatten several times since the age of 6. My first arrival in New York was with my parents on the Congressional Limited at Penn Station. We stayed at the Statler Hilton (now the Pennsylvania Hotel) across the street. That same year, we went farther north from Grand Central Terminal.

  6. I would think that since NY, NJ and AMTRAK have committed funds they could get the project started.
    If anyone has info on this, let us know…………

  7. STEVE – Amtrak has committed to 19% of the project price (the supposed project price, anyway) so in your words, let’s get started.

    I don’t know how much NY and NJ have committed so I can’t comment. I will say, though, a commitment is one thing, cash on the barrelhead is another.

    Here’s what unstated in the article: Amtrak doesn’t actually have any money. Not a dime or a nickel. Only what the federals provide each year —– pretty much the same funny money that the Trump administration has NOT committed to the project.

  8. Ms Vinson. Elevated railways in New York City are very unpopular and have been since the 1890’s. Complaints about the noise and the loss of sunlite have pushed rapid transit and heavy rail underground where possible. A new line in the city would just about have to be underground by popular demand. Even elevated highways are at risk of popular backlash.

  9. iAN and PENELOPE – There’s no ROW for elevated railways in Midtown.
    That and a thousand other reasons a bridge couldn’t be built nor any indication it would cost less.

  10. Floating around somewhere is a well-written proposal to use the techniques that were applied to the Canarsie subway tunnel. Within two years the Hudson River tubes would be in excellent condition, leaks sealed, cables above the benchwall, ballast cleaned, all done at night, and at a very reasonable cost (unless exorbitant NY labor costs are factored in). That would secure the present tunnels for years to come, then the new tunnels would follow immediately after, thereby increasing capacity for both Amtrak and NJT.

  11. And Mr. Riley is absolutely right, NJ and NY should damn well pay for it, as well as the other states along the NEC that were “magically” exempted from PRIIA costs.

  12. The way New Jersey, New York, and Amtrak throw around numberrs is reminiscent of how the late U.S. Senator from Illinois, Everett Dirksen, viewed such shell games: ” A million here, a million there; pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

    And how does Amtrak mosey up to the table with another $600 Million when concomitantly it seeks to derail the long distance routes and destroy the National Network? Given how Amtrak’s financials remain unaudited, let alone not exposed to a thorough forensic audit by a renown external accounting firm; how Amtrak has eagerly joined the chorus line to dismiss the fact that the Hudson tunnels and Portal Bridge principally serve a regional commuter area, it is impossible not to suspect:

    1) Amtrak’s management and whatever remaining Board members continue to drink the Kool-Aid served up by Amtrak’s Board Chair, Anthony Coscia, that the financial and operational focus is strictly on the NEC, as exhibited by Amtrak’s real estate development in NYC.
    2) As we know Amtrak has been siphoning federal funding from the National Network to prop-up and subsidize the NEC, it is logical to presume the extra $600M Amtrak identified comes out of the National Network i.e., federal funds.
    3) What makes this a nightmare for the rest of the country expected to pick-up the tab on this local issue is not only how Amtrak, NY, and NJ are running the table, but also, the fact that it was just revealed in the media how NY’s Governor Cuomo fell for Elon Musk’s smoke and mirrors performance to invest $750M into a solar panel factory in Buffalo, NY that failed to meet any of the legal requirements and financial hurdles.

    In essence, when all the states along the NEC stop receiving their free ride from Amtrak for the intercity trains running every 30 minutes in both directions between Boston-Washington (a route of only 457 miles vs. 750 PRIIA requirement); start paying per Amtrak’s unaudited full cost allocation methodology that defies GAAP accounting principles, than we can have a national discussion. Indeed, given Amtrak’s “shell game” with funding and planning, it should not even be in the owner position of the NEC, but rather, the FRA.

  13. LAWRENCE – I’m no fan of Joe McCarthy who was a despicable character and a dangerous man. The fact is, a lot of people McCarthy called “Communists” were in fact Communists. Me calling DeBlasio a Communist is not a slur, it’s the truth.

  14. This is about as non “local” a project as it gets. If one of those tunnels collapsed it would be absolute chaos.

  15. As for a bridge. That’s an idea who’s time came and went and there’s no way it could be feasibly done now. Read “Conquering Gotham,” which is a fantastic book about the building of Penn Station and the tunnels in the early 20th century.

  16. MIKE F – Agreed, this project deserves federal funding — if in a political vacuum. MIKE F let’s look at the politics. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in addition to being a total jerk is an outright Communist. He has thrown open every resource of the City government to illegal immigrants and has handcuffed his own poolice department while crime soars.

    Meanwhile Mayor Bill has told Trump not to come home to live in NYC. Trump is a lifelong NYC resident, birth to present.

    If I were Trump I’d tell de Blasio to get out of office. He more belongs as the mayor of a city in North Korea.

  17. Mr Landey,
    I surely respect your rail opinions but please stop with the political rhetoric in the NewsWire. This is not the proper forum. For accuracy’s sake, crime is down in NYC compared to previous years. And calling the mayor a Communist; harbingers of Joe McCarthy.

  18. @Stuart Kuyat
    The tunnels are not at capacity. Also a new tunnel is not needed at the moment. Penn station needs capacity improvements with a link to GCT and not what the current plan calls for by building a second Penn South… Stations can be time killers without adequate track and platform capacity to handle peak traffic. I’d also go over to Railway Age’s website and read the series by David Allan Prater called the Gateway series. He’s been involved with NEC projects since it’s ARC days.. The current project is unnecessarily expensive.. Simpler faster cheaper solutions are available..

  19. The majority of the funding for this project should come from ALL the states on the NEC especially being that they were exempted from the PRIIA guidelines that apply to other routes under 750 mi. The rest of the country should not have to finance a “local” passenger rail project as this, this is NOT a freight rail project. In these times of employees working remotely there are other options than travelling to work every day. As many LD passenger rail opponents say regarding those who live in rural communities with no other transportation options “you’re living there by your own choice” the same can be said of those living in NY & NJ. If Mr. Anderson expect the rest of the country to pay for their own passenger rail by slicing it into corridors the rest of the country should not have to pay for their own or loose it plus subsidize the NEC’s premium service!

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