Gateway Tunnel Project could begin construction as soon as 2023
The Gateway Project connecting New York and New Jersey could be one of the first major tunneling projects to benefit from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was signed into law in November with construction on the tunnel beneath the Hudson River starting as soon as 2023.
Financing for the project could be place by the end of 2022, said Balpreet Grewal-Virk, Gateway Development Corporation (GDC) co-chairwoman.
“It’s been an incredible few months and a productive year with the Biden administration moving it forward,” said Balpreet Grewal-Virk, Gateway Development Corporation (GDC) co-chairwoman. “We are looking to enter into engineering next year and hope to get a (federal) full funding grant by December and a summer of 2023 start.”
The cost of the project stands at $9.8 billion for new tunnel construction, and $1.8 billion to rehabilitate the old tunnels, for a grand total of $11.6 billion.
Construction of new tunnels and rehabilitation of the existing tunnels is estimated to be completed in 2035, said Frank Sacr, GDC Interim Executive Director.
NJ.com reported that there are still hurdles for the project. Officials said the project’s ranking needs to be raised by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to qualify for federal grants.
“We’re under review. We hope it will come next year,” Grewal-Virk said. “We have a great working relationship with the FTA and we’re in constant communication and answering any questions they have.”
The tunnel project had received a low rating under the Trump administration that precluded it from qualifying for federal funding.
Railroad and other infrastructure loans that would comprise New Jersey and New York’s share of the project also need to be applied for an approved.
The states received a boost from changes to those programs that would allow the loans to be paid off over 75 years, considering the lifespan of major railroad infrastructure projects, instead of an original 35-year payback period.
A “letter of interest” to start the application process for an estimated $6 billion in infrastructure loans is being prepared and could be submitted in the next couple of months, Sacr said.
In May, the project to augment and rehabilitate the two 110-year old tunnels with two new ones received a long-awaited environmental approval that will move New York and New Jersey one step closer to building them after a three-year-delay from a promised 2018 date.
An annex to Penn Station will be on hold until after the tunnel is built. It was part of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Empire Station Plan to modernize Penn, but was put off under a slimed down plan announced by current Gov. Kathy Hochul on Nov. 3.