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A new engineering report detailing damage to two Amtrak tunnels leading to New York City recommends taking the tunnels out of service for extended periods to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.The report underscores the urgency to advance Amtrak's Gateway program, which includes the construction of new, two-track tunnels under the Hudson River to help alleviate service impacts to the region, Amtrak officials announced yesterday."Public awareness of the critical needs of the tunnels is important to build regional understanding of what must be done to provide current and future train service levels into New York," said Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia in a press release.In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy created a storm surge that sent seawater into both tubes of the Hudson River tunnel and two of the four tubes of the East River tunnel. The report found no evidence that the tunnel linings are unsound, but it did find that chlorides and sulfates are continuing to significantly damage key tunnel components such as the bench walls and track systems, as well as key signal, electrical and mechanical systems, Amtrak officials said.Amtrak engineers are working with consultants on designs to rehabilitate the East River tunnel's two damaged tubes and the railroad is coordinating efforts with other agencies to minimize impacts to service and other projects, they said.
The rehabilitation work for both damaged tubes of the Hudson River tunnel cannot reasonably begin until after the new Gateway tunnel is built and operating. This will allow rail traffic to shift to the new tunnel and avoid major service impacts, Amtrak officials said. The railroad is seeking to begin the Gateway program as soon as possible.Consulting firm HNTB produced the engineering report, according to The New York Times. Limiting tunnel service during the repair process would impact service by MTA Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, in addition to Amtrak.