Hudson Tunnel Project

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FAQs

The purpose of the Hudson Tunnel Project is to preserve the current functionality of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service and NJ TRANSIT’s commuter rail service between New Jersey and Penn Station New York by repairing the deteriorating existing Northeast Corridor rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River (known as the North River Tunnel); and to strengthen the Northeast Corridor’s resiliency to support reliable service by providing redundant capacity under the Hudson River for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT Northeast Corridor trains between New Jersey and the existing Penn Station New York. These improvements must be achieved while maintaining uninterrupted commuter and intercity rail service and by optimizing the use of existing infrastructure.

The existing Northeast Corridor rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River, known as the North River Tunnel, is currently safe for use by Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT trains traveling between New Jersey and New York City and beyond. However, Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 damaged the North River Tunnel. Certain elements of tunnel infrastructure remain in poor condition as a result of the storm damage and have required emergency maintenance that disrupts service for hundreds of thousands of rail passengers throughout the region. Despite the ongoing maintenance, the damage caused by the storm continues to degrade systems in the tunnel and can only be addressed through a comprehensive reconstruction of the tunnel.

Construction of the new Hudson Tunnel is expected to take approximately seven years after obtaining the environmental approvals, permits and real estate, and subject to availability of a steady stream of funding. After the new tunnel is complete, rehabilitation of the existing Northeast Corridor rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River (the North River Tunnel) will take another three years. A preliminary schedule aims to complete the new tunnel in 2026 to enable the planned rehabilitation of the existing tubes to be complete in 2029.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a federal law that requires federal agencies to evaluate the impacts on the human and natural environment of projects they may approve or fund. NEPA aims to ensure that environmental information is available to the public and public officials before decisions are made and actions are taken.

Construction of the Hudson Tunnel Project is expected to involve the use of federal funding administered through the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The Hudson Tunnel Project will also require permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Prior to approving funding or issuing permits, federal agencies must consider the environmental effects of the Project in accordance with NEPA. Therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared for the Project. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will serve as the lead federal agency for the environmental review, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), USACE, and any other federal agencies with relevant expertise for the environmental review will participate in the review.

Public participation is a critical part of the environmental review process required by NEPA. The EIS will provide the FRA and NJ TRANSIT, Project partners, and other participating agencies and the public with information about alternatives that meet the Project’s purpose and need, including their environmental impacts and potential avoidance and mitigation measures.

The process for preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) includes the following steps:

  • Notice of Intent (NOI). Publication of the NOI in the Federal Register formally announces the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) intent to prepare an EIS for the Hudson Tunnel Project and initiates the environmental review process. This occurred on May 2, 2016.
  • Scoping. An initial step in the NEPA process, the scoping process provides the public and agencies an opportunity to review and comment on the scope of the EIS including the Project’s purpose and need, alternatives to be studied in the EIS, environmental issues of concern, and the methodologies for the environmental analysis. The Hudson Tunnel Project’s scoping process was conducted in May 2016.
  • Draft EIS (DEIS). Following scoping, a DEIS is prepared to assess the environmental impacts of the Project consistent with NEPA and other applicable regulations and requirements. For the Hudson Tunnel Project, FRA anticipates that the DEIS will include a recommendation for a Preferred Alternative. The Preferred Alternative is the alternative that FRA believes best meets the purpose and need identified for the Project, giving consideration to public and stakeholder input as well as economic, environmental, technical and other factors, and therefore represents the alternative that is proposed to be implemented for the Project.
  • Public Review of the DEIS. When the DEIS is ready for review, FRA will ensure the document is readily available. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will publish a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register initiating a public comment period for the DEIS. Public hearings will be held during the public comment period to provide an opportunity for comments. At the public hearings and during the DEIS comment period, the FRA will receive agency and public comments on the DEIS.
  • Final EIS (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD). After the public comment period on the DEIS closes, FRA intends to prepare a joint FEIS and ROD if appropriate. The FEIS will include a summary of the comments made on the DEIS during the public comment period and responses to those comments, and any necessary revisions to the DEIS to address the comments. The ROD officially documents the selection of the final Preferred Alternative and the measures to be incorporated into the Project that will avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts.
  • Post-ROD. After FRA issues its ROD for the Hudson Tunnel Project, other agencies can issue their permits and approvals for the Project, final design can be completed, and construction can begin.
  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Section 106 requires that Federal agencies consider the effects of their actions on any properties listed or determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. As part of the Section 106 process, FRA will afford the New Jersey and New York State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Federally recognized Native American tribes, identified consulting parties, and interested members of the public a reasonable opportunity to comment on the Hudson Tunnel Project and its potential effects. This EIS will include consideration of the Project’s effects in accordance with Section 106 and public comment periods will be provided in coordination with the NEPA public comment periods.

Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT are the primary users of the existing North River Tunnel. As a state transit agency, NJ TRANSIT is eligible to serve as Hudson Tunnel Project sponsor for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, whereas Amtrak is not, given its status as a private, for-profit organization. NJ TRANSIT also has a long history of managing EIS and other NEPA documents for major rail investment projects.

Amtrak owns, maintains, and operates the existing Northeast Corridor beneath the Hudson River, known as the North River Tunnel. The North River Tunnel is a critical component of the Northeast Corridor. As the nation’s intercity passenger rail operator, Amtrak operates over the entire Northeast Corridor, providing regional service, long distance service, and high-speed Acela Express service. Amtrak owns the majority of the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak is managing the Preliminary Engineering required for the Hudson Tunnel Project, including the design for construction of the new Hudson River Tunnel and the design of the rehabilitation of the existing North River Tunnel. The Preliminary Engineering effort will be conducted in coordination with the Hudson Tunnel Project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Yes. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and NJ TRANSIT are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the Hudson Tunnel Project. As appropriate, FRA and NJ TRANSIT will coordinate with Amtrak, as owner of the existing Northeast Corridor rail tunnel, known as the North River Tunnel, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) on the EIS. Amtrak is managing the Preliminary Engineering required for the Hudson Tunnel Project, including the design for construction of the new Hudson River Tunnel and the design of the rehabilitation of the existing North River Tunnel. The Preliminary Engineering effort will be conducted in coordination with the Hudson Tunnel Project’s EIS.

The Hudson Tunnel Project has the support of Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie and Senators Charles Schumer, Cory Booker, and Robert Menendez, among others. The states of New Jersey and New York, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Amtrak, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) are creating a Gateway Development Corporation to oversee the construction and execution of the Hudson Tunnel Project. The corporation’s board would consist of representatives from Amtrak, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the States of New York and New Jersey.

The Hudson Tunnel Project will allow rehabilitation of the existing Northeast Corridor tunnel beneath the Hudson River, known as the North River Tunnel, while maintaining uninterrupted commuter rail service between New Jersey and New York and intercity Northeast Corridor rail service. The Project addresses a specific need related to deterioration of the North River Tunnel. When completed, the Project will address a critical infrastructure need, will also strengthen the resilience of the Northeast Corridor to provide reliable service by providing redundant capacity at the critical Hudson River crossing, and will help to facilitate a future expansion of rail capacity between New York and New Jersey. However, while the Hudson Tunnel Project addresses maintenance and resilience of the Northeast Corridor Hudson River crossing, it will not directly increase rail capacity. Ultimately, an increase in service between Newark Penn Station and Penn Station New York cannot be realized until other substantial infrastructure capacity improvements are built in addition to a new Hudson River rail tunnel.

By contrast, the Gateway Program is a long-term plan to improve rail service along the Northeast Corridor in the area between Newark, New Jersey, and Penn Station New York and meet the demand for increasing ridership. When implemented in combination with the Hudson Tunnel Project, the full Gateway Program will create new track, tunnel, bridge, and station capacity that will allow the doubling in the number of passenger trains crossing under the Hudson River. These additional Gateway Program elements include the expansion of Penn Station New York, the nation’s busiest train station; the replacement of the Northeast Corridor’s Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River with twin two-track, high-level fixed rail bridges; reconfiguration of the Secaucus Junction Station in Secaucus and construction of the “Bergen Loop” tracks; as well as updates to, and modernization of, existing infrastructure, such as the electrical system that supplies power to the 450 daily trains using this segment of the Northeast Corridor. The Hudson Tunnel Project will be designed so as not to preclude other future projects to expand capacity in the area and may ultimately be an element of a larger program to expand rail capacity.

The Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project, which was evaluated in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process completed in 2009, was designed to expand the capacity of the trans-Hudson rail system by constructing a new tunnel under the Hudson River together with additional station capacity under West 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The Hudson Tunnel Project does not include the construction of any new station capacity at or near Penn Station New York. Also, because of the need to maintain existing rail service while the North River Tunnel is being rehabilitated, the Hudson Tunnel Project must connect to the existing Penn Station tracks and platforms, whereas the ARC project served a separate, dedicated rail terminal with no rail connection to Penn Station. The ARC project was cancelled in 2010.

The Preferred Alternative identified for the Hudson Tunnel Project will use properties already acquired by NJ TRANSIT for the ARC project. In addition, where prior studies that were conducted for the ARC project are relevant for the Hudson Tunnel Project, they will be updated.

NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak plan to use the engineering and environmental documentation developed for the ARC project as much as possible in order to expedite the process and save time where feasible. However, design information will be adjusted as appropriate in order to create Project alternatives that meet the purpose and need of the Hudson Tunnel Project, and environmental information will be updated and adjusted to reflect changes in background conditions and modifications to the design that have been made since the ARC project. In addition, the Preferred Alternative identified for the Hudson Tunnel Project will use properties already acquired by NJ TRANSIT for the ARC project.

Public involvement is an integral part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process being conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Accordingly, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in coordination with NJ TRANSIT, will implement a public outreach and agency coordination plan throughout the environmental review process for the Hudson Tunnel Project, beginning with scoping and ending with the Record of Decision.

The public involvement plan will include a number of different outreach tools and activities to involve the public. These will include the following:

  • Project mailing list: NJ TRANSIT will develop a mailing list of elected officials, public agency contacts, stakeholders and community groups, and members of the public with an interest in the Hudson Tunnel Project. The mailing list will be used to distribute meeting announcements and information about the Project. Where email addresses are available, announcements will be distributed electronically.
  • Project website: A Project website (www.hudsontunnelproject.com) has been established to provide information on the Project. The website will be kept up to date with information on the Project alternatives, environmental review, and current and previous Project documentation, and will provide a link to allow people to sign up for the mailing list and submit comments electronically.
  • Project newsletters at key milestones: These will provide updated information on the Project and the status of the environmental review.
  • Local government and stakeholder briefings: FRA and NJ TRANSIT will brief the appropriate local government entities and stakeholders to provide information, answer questions, and receive feedback.
  • Public open houses: FRA and NJ TRANSIT will hold public meetings to provide information about the status of the Project and solicit feedback at key milestones.
  • Public comment periods at specific NEPA milestones: NEPA requires public comment periods to provide an opportunity for public input at two critical points during the environmental review: during the scoping period and when the Draft EIS (DEIS) is complete. During both those periods, public meetings will be held and the public will have an opportunity to provide comments orally or in writing.

The first formal opportunity for public participation was the EIS scoping process. The public was encouraged to provide the FRA and NJ TRANSIT with input on issues related to the Hudson Tunnel Project to be addressed in the DEIS. Following the formal scoping process, the public will be invited to provide input throughout the EIS process. Project information will be made available to the public on the Project website and comments can be sent to the Project team via the website. Following completion and issuance of the DEIS, the document will be made available for public comment for a specified period, and during that period, public hearings will be held in New Jersey and New York City to facilitate the collection of comments on the DEIS. These comments will be addressed in the Final EIS (FEIS).

The Hudson Tunnel Project will include the following elements:

  • Two new surface tracks parallel to the south side of the Northeast Corridor beginning east of Secaucus Junction Station in Secaucus, New Jersey.
  • A new tunnel with two tracks in two separate tubes beneath the Palisades and continuing east of the Palisades beneath Hoboken, New Jersey, and beneath the Hudson River to Manhattan. In New Jersey, the tunnel would begin at a portal in the western slope of the Palisades near Tonnelle Avenue (US Routes 1 & 9), in North Bergen, New Jersey. The new portal would be approximately 600 feet south of the existing North River Tunnel portal.
  • A new tunnel ventilation shaft and fan plant in Hoboken, New Jersey, on land NJ TRANSIT previously acquired for the ARC project. The vent shaft/building would provide fresh air to the tunnel and exhaust smoke during emergencies.
  • Two new tracks continuing in Manhattan, New York, beneath Hudson River Park and NYS Route 9A (West Side Highway) to meet the underground right-of-way being preserved by Amtrak through the John D. Caemmerer Yard (Western and Eastern Rail Yards) in Manhattan.
  • A new tunnel ventilation shaft and fan plant at or near Route 9A and West 30th Street in Manhattan. The vent shaft/building would provide fresh air to the tunnel and exhaust smoke during emergencies.
  • Two new tracks running through the right-of-way being preserved through the Western and Eastern Rail Yards, to connect to the existing approach tracks that serve Penn Station New York.
  • A new ventilation shaft at or near the Lerner Building at Tenth Avenue, which sits above the rail right-of-way.
  • Track connections to the existing approach tracks that lead into Penn Station New York.
  • Rehabilitation of the existing Northeast Corridor rail tunnel’s structure, tracks, and signals, one tube at a time.

The FRA and NJ TRANSIT have identified a Preferred Alternative that consists of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and rehabilitation of the existing Northeast Corridor Hudson River crossing, the North River Tunnel. The Preferred Alternative identifies a specific alignment that includes two new tracks extending from the Northeast Corridor in Secaucus, New Jersey, continuing in a tunnel beneath the Palisades, as well as rehabilitation of the existing North River Tunnel once the new tunnel is complete. Read the Preferred Alternative Summary.

The environmental analysis conducted for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will consider the Hudson Tunnel Project’s potential direct, indirect, and cumulative effects on the full range of social, economic, and environmental resources. The analysis will include detailed consideration of impacts that would occur during the Hudson Tunnel Project’s construction—including construction of the new tunnel and rehabilitation of the existing tunnel—as well as consideration of the Project’s operational impacts once the construction is complete.

Project costs are being developed as part of the Project’s Preliminary Engineering. Information on the Project cost will be available as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Project.

The funding sources for the Hudson Tunnel Project are still being determined and will include a combination of federal, state, local, and possibly private funding.

In 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched the NEC FUTURE study to consider the role of rail passenger service in the context of current and future transportation demands and to evaluate the appropriate level of capacity improvements to make across the Northeast Corridor (NEC). FRA completed a Draft EIS (DEIS) for the NEC FUTURE study in November 2015. The intent of the NEC FUTURE program is to help develop a long-term vision and investment program for the NEC. Through NEC FUTURE, FRA is currently evaluating overall capacity improvements and environmental consequences associated with improved NEC rail services, including trans-Hudson service. However, the Hudson Tunnel Project addresses a specific need related to deterioration of the existing Northeast Corridor rail tunnel under the Hudson River, known as the North River Tunnel, and can be considered independently from the other projects analyzed in the NEC FUTURE DEIS. All three build alternatives evaluated in the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 DEIS released by FRA in November 2015 included new Hudson River tunnel investments. The Hudson Tunnel Project’s EIS may incorporate the appropriate analysis and other relevant elements from the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 EIS while focusing on the issues specific to this independent Project.

The Hudson Tunnel Project does not include any changes to Penn Station's platforms or station tracks. The Project would connect to Penn Station's approach tracks west of Ninth Avenue and would not include any changes east of Ninth Avenue.

The Moynihan Station Project will create improved connections; however, Moynihan Station Project will utilize the existing Penn Station tracks and platforms and will not create new rail platforms or tracks. These platforms and tracks are fully utilized during peak travel times and no additional peak rail service can be operated between New Jersey and New York without additional station capacity in New York. Other rail capacity constraints in New Jersey, such as the Portal Bridge, would also need to be addressed in order to provide additional rail service.

The Hudson Tunnel Project is currently in the early phase of planning and environmental review. Following completion of environmental review (anticipated for 2018), final design will begin, followed by construction of the new tunnel and then rehabilitation of the existing tunnel. Specific details on the timing for the construction, the procurement, and the Project cost are not yet available. As the Project advances, additional information will be posted on this website.

A variety of alternatives that were identified in previous studies and suggested during the Project’s scoping process were evaluated. These included use of a bridge rather than a tunnel, a tunnel alignment farther south, and the addition of other project elements on the Northeast Corridor. These alternatives were dismissed because they did not meet the Project’s purpose and need due to either (1) constraints of connecting from the Northeast Corridor into the existing tracks at Penn Station New York; (2) constraints related to the need to complete the Project quickly; or (3) constraints related to maintaining existing train capacity through the Hudson River crossing. The alternatives evaluation concluded that the only Build Alternative concept that meets the Project purpose and need is a new two-track tunnel near the existing North River Tunnel, with rehabilitation of the existing tunnel.

Multiple different alignment options are possible for the Build Alternative’s new tunnel between its portal at Tonnelle Avenue and the Manhattan shoreline. In order to identify the routing that best meets the Project’s purpose and need, four conceptual alignment options were identified based on potential locations where the New Jersey vent shaft / fan plant could be sited. The vent shaft should be located directly above the tunnel and east of the Palisades, and therefore the location of the vent shaft determines the tunnel alignment. The vent shaft site would also be used as a construction staging site.

The four alignment options were evaluated in terms of how well they meet the Project’s purpose and need. Based on the alternatives evaluation, the tunnel routing that generally follows the former ARC project’s alignment in New Jersey best meets the Project’s purpose and need and was identified as the Preferred Alternative.

The alternatives evaluation concluded that the only Build Alternative concept that meets the Project purpose and need is a new two-track tunnel near the existing North River Tunnel, with rehabilitation of the existing tunnel. Based on the alternatives evaluation, the tunnel routing that generally follows the former ARC project’s alignment in New Jersey best meets the Project’s purpose and need and was identified as the Preferred Alternative. This alignment option has:

  • The least potential for delays to the Project schedule, because of the property acquisition, investigation, and remediation already conducted for the ARC project;
  • Minimal impacts to existing transit and other transportation services; and
  • Least impact related to displacement of active uses (residential, business, and future residential), since NJ TRANSIT has already acquired the properties needed for the New Jersey vent shaft site and staging areas.

Multiple different alignment options are possible for the Build Alternative’s new tunnel between its portal at Tonnelle Avenue and the Manhattan shoreline. In order to identify the routing that best meets the Project’s purpose and need, four conceptual alignment options were identified based on potential locations where the New Jersey vent shaft / fan plant could be sited. The vent shaft must be located directly above the tunnel and east of the Palisades, and therefore the location of the vent shaft determines the tunnel alignment. The vent shaft site would also be used as a construction staging site.

The four alignment options were evaluated in terms of how well they meet the Project’s purpose and need. Based on the alternatives evaluation, the tunnel routing that follows the former ARC project’s alignment in New Jersey best meets the Project’s purpose and need and was identified as the Preferred Alternative.

The new tunnel will be approximately 175 to 250 feet below the surface of the Palisades (Union City). East of the Palisades, the tunnel will be approximately 80 feet below the surface in Hoboken, gradually rising as it heads toward Manhattan. At the Manhattan shoreline, the tunnel will be approximately 40 feet below the surface.