Fed Gov't Re­port Es­ti­mates Cost of Hud­son Tun­nel to Sky­rocket to $13B

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Han­nah Hayes

Are­cent re­port by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­creased the es­ti­mated cost by more than 50 per­cent for the con­struc­tion of a new Hud­son River rail tun­nel and re­viv­ing the old one, mak­ing the new ex­pected price tag a whop­ping $13 bil­lion.

Peo­ple in fa­vor of the project be­lieve it will still hap­pen, be­cause it is so des­per­ately needed. Ac­cord­ing to Crain’s News, “The ex­ist­ing two-track tun­nel, which shut­tles Am­trak riders and mil­lions of New Jersey Tran­sit com­muters to and from Man­hat­tan each year, is ag­ing and in des­per­ate need of ma­jor re­pair, which in­volves first build­ing a new sib­ling con­duit. But the new draft en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment by the U.S Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion found the en­deavor, part of a larger project known as Gate­way, would run into the range of $11.7 to $12.98 bil­lion. A sim­i­lar tun­nel con­struc­tion and re­pair ef­fort, part of the Ac­cess to the Re­gion's Core project killed by Gov. Chris Christie, was priced at $8.7 bil­lion. Christie had said he did not want New Jersey to be on the hook for cost over­runs.”

On Thurs­day morn­ing, June 6, at New York Penn Sta­tion at a press con­fer­ence un­veil­ing the re­port, Gate­way Pro­gram De­vel­op­ment Corp. In­terim Di­rec­tor John Por­cari said that build­ing the new shaft will cost be­tween $11.2 bil­lion and $12.9 bil­lion, while ren­o­vat­ing the old tun­nel will be an­other $1.7 bil­lion. Work to keep up cur­rent op­er­a­tion be­fore the un­der-river tracks are re­paired are where ad­di­tional costs would come from. Por­cari said this re­cent es­ti­mate dif­fers from ear­lier ones due to in­creased se­cu­rity, ex­ca­va­tion and re­fur­bish­ment costs, which is a re­sult of now hav­ing more ac­cu­rate and de­tailed plans for both parts of the project.

He said, "Those num­bers are bet­ter known than they were be­fore. The cost num­bers will con­tinue to be re­fined."

On Fri­day, June 7, the anala­y­sis was com­pleted ac­cord­ing to Por­cari. That same day, the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion of­fi­cially with­drew its trustee from the de­vel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tion. Crain’s re­ports, “The en­tity had been formed in 2015 at the be­hest of now-Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, with a four-per­son lead­er­ship that also in­cluded Am­trak Chair­man An­thony Cos­cia and two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Port Au­thor­ity of New York and New Jersey, one picked by the gover­nor of each state. Some in­ter­preted the with­drawal of the DOT trustee as an ill omen for the project, an un­der­tak­ing which Schumer and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion steered through initial re­sis­tance from Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Oth­ers saw it as a play by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to pres­sure the Se­nate Demo­cratic leader and to put Trump's own stamp on the project, as he ad­vances a vi­sion for in­fra­struc­ture that in­volves pri­vate cap­i­tal investment, tax cred­its and toll rev­enue. Por­cari, him­self a for­mer deputy sec­re­tary of trans­porta­tion un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, ap­peared at pains to sig­nal to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that his group would ag­gres­sively in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­bil­ity of seek­ing a pri­vate part­ner to help finance the tun­nel's con­struc­tion.”

Por­cari said, "We've al­ways had a very open mind as to how best to build it. That's some­thing we're ac­tively eval­u­at­ing."

"Those num­bers are bet­ter known than they were be­fore. The cost num­bers will con­tinue to be re­fined."

John Por­cari, in­terim Gate­way De­vel­op­ment Corp. Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor said the es­ti­mated costs have in­creased for the con­struc­tion of the new rail tun­nels un­der the Hud­son River.

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