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Rail News: Amtrak

FTA rates Hudson River rail tunnel project 'medium-low' priority

The FTA's rating delays the Gateway Hudson River tunnel project's eligibility for federal funding.
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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) earlier this week announced it has rated the Hudson River rail tunnel rehabilitation project a "medium-low" priority, a designation that serves to delay the project's eligibility for federal funding under the Capital Investment Grant program.

Last year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), Amtrak and New Jersey Transit submitted a revised application for funding, including a proposal to lower the project's cost by $1.4 billion and decrease its reliance on federal funds to less than 50 percent. The revised application was part of an effort to increase the project's FTA rating above "medium low." The tunnel project's cost is estimated to be about $12 billion.

The Hudson River tunnel project is part of Amtrak's Gateway infrastructure program for the Northeast Corridor. The condition of the 109-year-old tunnel, which was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, continues to deteriorate.

"This is not a game – this is real life, and at any point, the existing tunnels could fail, which would have a dire impact on millions of people and a profound negative effect on the national economy,” said PANYNJ Executive Director Rick Cotton in a prepared statement.

Earlier this week, 15 U.S. Democratic senators sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration demanding to know why that federal agency had not yet acted on an environmental impact statement nor a record of decision for the Gateway Hudson River tunnel project.

Although the FTA gave the Hudson tunnel project a "medium-low rating," the agency rated the Portal North Bridge replacement project "medium high," effectively making it eligible for federal funding. The bridge project is also part of the Gateway program.

The FTA's decision "puts us one step closer to our ultimate goal: replacing this unreliable, century-old bridge and reducing delays for New Jersey Transit customers," said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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