The Gateway Project is a proposal to build a high-speed rail corridor to alleviate the bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. If constructed, the project would add 25 train slots during peak periods to the current system used by Amtrak (AMTK) and New Jersey Transit (NJT), which has reached full capacity.
The planned right-of-way would parallel the current one between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station (NYP) in Midtown Manhattan. The project would build new rail bridges in the New Jersey Meadowlands, dig new tunnels under the Hudson Palisades and the Hudson River, convert parts of the James Farley Post Office into a rail station, and add a terminal annex to NYP. Some previously planned improvements already underway have also been incorporated into the Gateway plan. Construction of a "tunnel box" which would preserve the right-of-way on Manhattan's West Side is scheduled to begin in summer 2013.
The project was unveiled in February 2011 after the 2010 cancellation of the somewhat similar Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project. Another proposal revived after ARC's cancellation, the 7 Subway Extension from Manhattan to Secaucus Junction, was scuttled in April 2012.
In November 2011, it was estimated the project would cost $14.5 billion and be completed in 2025. Funding has not been identified.
Announcement and initial phases
The Gateway Project was unveiled on February 7, 2011, by Amtrak President Joseph Boardman and New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez. The announcement also included endorsements from New York Senator Charles Schumer and Amtrak's Board of Directors. Officials said Amtrak would take the lead in seeking financing; a list of potential sources included the states of New York and New Jersey, the City of New York, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as well as private investors.
As of late 2011, two parts of the project were underway: the replacement of the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and the development of Moynihan Station in Manhattan. Environmental impact statements are completed and the design and engineering of the new bridges has begun. The ceremonial groundbreaking of the first phase of the conversion of the Farley P.O. to a new Moynihan Station took place in October 2010. Some funding for the projects comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
In 2011, the project was projected to cost $13.5 billion and wrap up in 2020. In April 2011, Amtrak asked that $1.3 billion in USDOT funding for NEC rail corridor improvements be allocated to Gateway and related projects. In November 2011, Congress allocated $15 million for engineering work.
In 2012, revised projections put the cost at $14.5 billion and completion date at 2025. In April 2012, the U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee on transportation proposed to provide another $20 million; that awaits further congressional approval.
The source of further funding remains unclear, as does how the $600 million in work done for ARC might be used. While New Jersey officlals have said the state will pay its "fair share" of the project, no specific dollar amount has been committed.
In September 2012, Schumer estimated that the project would need $20 million in 2013 and $100 million in 2014 to keep it from dying.
In December 2012, Amtrak requested $276 million from Congress to upgrade infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Sandy that would also eventually support trains run along the new Gateway Project right-of-way. That funding, which had been revised to $188 million, was deleted from the legislation.
The right-of-way was originally developed by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) in conjunction with the 1910 opening of Pennsylvania Station (New York City) which required the construction of the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and the North River Tunnels under the Hudson Palisades and Hudson River. The following year the Manhattan Transfer was opened in the Kearny Meadows to allow changes between steam and electric locomotives. This also provided for passenger transfers to/from its former main terminal at Exchange Place in Jersey City or the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad (H&M), the forerunner of today's Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH). The Dock Bridge over the Passaic River was opened in conjunction with adjacent new Pennsylvania Station (Newark) in 1935. In 1937, the H&M was extended over a second span, making the transfer in the meadows redundant.
In 1949, the PRR discontinued its ferry system on the Hudson and in 1961 closed its Exchange Place station. In 1962, it agreed to the demolition of its Manhattan station in exchange for a smaller one under a new Madison Square Garden. In 1967, the Aldene Plan was implemented, requiring the floundering Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ), Reading (RDG), and Lehigh Valley (LV) railroads, to travel into Newark Penn with continuing service to New York Penn. The following year the PRR merged with New York Central (NYC), but the new Penn Central (PC) declared bankruptcy on June 21, 1970. In 1976, its long distance service (including part of today's Northeast Corridor and Empire Corridor) was taken over by Amtrak, which had been founded in 1971. Conrail was created in 1976 to bail out numerous Northeast railroads, including the commuter service on the CNJ and the LV. In 1983, when the corporation divested its passenger rail operations, they were taken over by New Jersey Transit (NJT), which had been created in 1979 to operate much of the state's bus system.
In 1991, New Jersey Transit opened the Waterfront Connection, extending service on some non-electricfied trains which had previously terminated at Newark Penn Station to Hoboken. In 1996, it began its Midtown Direct service, rerouting some trains from the west which previously terminated at Hoboken Terminal to New York Penn. Secaucus Junction was opened in 2003, allowing passengers travelling from the north to transfer to Northeast Corridor Line, North Jersey Coast Line, or Midtown Direct trains, though not to Amtrak, which does not stop there. Between 1976 and 2010, the number of New Jersey Transit weekday trains crossing the Hudson using the North River Tunnels (under contract with Amtrak) increased from 147 to 438.
The other rail system crossing the Hudson was developed by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, partially in conjunction with the PRR, and taken over by PANYNJ in 1962. Direct trans-Hudson rail service to Lower Manhattan from Newark Penn is provided by Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH), a rapid transit system with additional terminals at World Trade Center and Herald Square in Manhattan, and at Hoboken Terminal and Journal Square in Hudson County.
There are three vehicular crossings of the lower Hudson River. The Holland Tunnel, opened in 1927, is minimally used for public transportation. The George Washington Bridge, opened in 1931, is used by suburban buses to GWB Bus Terminal. Its lower level, opened in 1962, is the last new river crossing. The Lincoln Tunnel, composed of three tubes opened in 1937, 1945 and 1954, is one of the busiest tunnels in the world. Its eastern terminus is connected via ramps to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the gateway for most NJT bus traffic entering Manhattan. Despite the Lincoln Tunnel XBL (express bus lane) during the morning peak there are often long delays due to traffic congestion and the limited capacity of the bus terminal for deboarding passengers. Part of the PANYNJ 2007-2016 Capital Plan for construction of a bus garage in Midtown so that day-time turnover buses could avoid unnecessarily travelling through the tunnel without passengers was scrapped by the agency in October 2011. More than 6,000 bus trips are made through the tunnel and bus terminal daily. In December 2011, the New Jersey Assembly passed a resolution calling upon the PANYNJ to address the issue of congestion. In May 2012, the commissioner of NJDOT suggested that some NJT routes could originate/terminate at other Manhattan locations, notably the East Side. The arrangement would require the approval of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) to use bus stops.
Access to the Region's Core
Launched in 1995 by PANYNJ, NJT, and MTA, Access to the Region's Core (ARC) was a Major Investment Study that looked at public transportation ideas for the New York metropolitan area. It found that long-term goals would best be met by better connections to and in-between the region's major rail stations in Midtown Manhattan, Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. The East Side Access project, including tunnels under the East River and the East Side of Manhattan, which would divert some LIRR traffic to Grand Central, is expected to be completed in 2019.
The Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel or THE Tunnel, which later took on the name of the study itself, was meant to address the western, or Hudson River, crossing. Engineering studies determined that structural interferences made a direct connection to Grand Central or the current Penn Station unfeasible and its final design involved boring under the current rail yard and 34th Street to a new deep cavern terminal station. While Amtrak had acknowledged that the region represented a bottleneck in the national system and had originally planned to complete work by 2040, its timetable for beginning the project was advanced in part due to the cancellation of ARC, a project similar in scope, but with differences in design. That project, which did not include direct Amtrak participation was cancelled in October 2010 by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who cited potential cost overruns. Amtrak briefly engaged the governor in attempt to revive the ARC Tunnel and use preliminary work done for it, but those negotiations soon broke down. Amtrak said it was not interested in purchasing any of the work. Senator Menendez later said some preparatory work done for ARC may be used for the new project. Costs for the project were $117 million for preliminary engineering, $126 million for final design, $15 million for construction and $178 million real estate property rights ($28 million in New Jersey and $150 million in New York City). Additionally, a $161 million partially refundable pre-payment of insurance premiums was also made.
Existing and new infrastructure along right of way
The current route, about 11 miles (18 km) long, includes infrastructure that is more than 100 years old. The system operates at capacity during peak hours — 23 trains per hour — and limits speed for safety reasons. The new high-speed route would run parallel to the current right-of-way, enabling dispatching alternatives, potential speed increases, and up to 25 more trains per hour. There are no plans for Amtrak to stop at Secaucus Junction, the only intermediate station and a major interchange point in the NJT system.
Newark Penn, Dock Bridge, Harrison PATH Station
Six tracks connect Newark Penn Station and the adjacent Dock Bridge over the Passaic River. The station and the west span of the bridge, carrying three tracks, were built in 1935. The east span, opened in 1937, carries one outbound track, and the two Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) tracks entering and leaving the station. The bridge, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANY/NJ), underwent repairs as recently as 2009. To the northeast lies the Harrsion PATH Station. Between the bridge and the station AMTK and NJT trains are aligned on three center tracks to pass through it, with the PATH using side platforms. While not part of the Gateway Project, the station itself is undergoing a $173 million reconstruction and expansion funded by the PANY/NJ which owns and operates the PATH rapid transit system. Passenger use is expected to grow as the area develops; it already includes the Red Bull Arena. Maps for the Gateway Project indicate that an additional, or fourth track for the NEC will be added.
At Kearny Junction, east of the former Manhattan Transfer, the rights-of-way of Amtrak, and PATH, and several NJT lines converge and run parallel to each other. While there is no junction with PATH, NJT trains can switch tracks, depending on their terminal of origination or destination, enabling Midtown Direct trains on the Morris and Essex Lines to join or depart the Northeast Corridor. The single track limited-use Waterfront Connection connects some lines using diesel trains on Hoboken Terminal trips with the NEC to the west. Currently the NEC runs on two tracks northeast of the junction. Plans call for expansion to four tracks, requiring the construction of bridges in the Kearny Meadows at Newark Turnpike and Belleville Turnpike.
The 1910 Portal Bridge, a two-track, rail-only, 961-foot (293 m) swing bridge over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus, limits train speeds and crossings and requires frequent and costly maintenance. Its lowest beams are 23 feet (7.0 m) above the water, so it opens regularly for shipping, though not during weekday rush hours, when trains have priority.
In December 2008, the Federal Railroad Administration approved a $1.34 billion project to replace the Portal Bridge with two new bridges: a three-track bridge to the north, and a two-track bridge to the south. In 2009, New Jersey applied for funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and on January 28, 2010, received $38.5 million for design. Current plans call for two two-track bridges. Cycling advocates, with Lautenberg's support, are lobbying to include bike paths that would become part of the East Coast Greenway. Construction on the new bridges was scheduled to begin in 2010 and wrap up in 2017, at which time the Portal Bridge will be dismantled. In April 2011, Amtrak applied for $570 million for construction from US DOT. New Jersey is expected to contribute $150 million.
Secaucus Junction-Bergen Loop
Opened on December 15, 2003, Secaucus Junction is an interchange station served by nine of New Jersey Transit's rail lines, and is sited where Hoboken Terminal trains intersect with those traveling along the Northeast Corridor. Passenger transfers are possible, but there is no rail junction. While the ARC had planned a loop to create a junction, original plans for the Gateway Project did not. Amtrak trains pass through the station, but do not stop there, nor are there plans to include an Amtrak stop. In April 2012, Amtrak announced that the Project might include a "Bergen Loop" connecting NJT's Main Line/Bergen County Line and Pascack Valley Line to the NEC at Secaucus Junction.
The ARC Tunnel was to be built in three sections: under the Hudson Palisades, under the Hudson River, and under the streets of Manhattan, where it would have dead-ended. The Gateway Tunnel will likely be built along the footprint of the Palisades and river sections, but will enable trains to join the current interlocking once it emerges. A flying junction is planned for later stages. This will allow Amtrak and NJT to continue to use the East River Tunnels and Sunnyside Yards for staging, storage, and carrying Amtrak NEC trains.
A groundbreaking for ARC was held on June 8, 2009. for new underpass at Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen near the site western portal of the tunnel through Hudson Palisades just south of the North River Tunnels. The land, which cost $26.3 million, is owned by NJT. A tunneling contract for the Palisades Tunnel was awarded on May 5, 2010 to Skanska. Maps indicate this part of the Gateway Tunnel would follow a route to the Weehawken-Hoboken border. In October 2012, in an eminent domain case for a property in Weehawken New Jersey Transit acquired a parcel in the path of the tunnel for $8.5 million.
Hudson River Tunnel
The Gateway Hudson River tunnel will travel from a point at Weehawken Cove under the Hudson River and its eastern portal south of West Side Yard in Manhattan. Engineering studies for ARC along this route had been deemed unfeasible. Surveys of properties which would or would not be affected by underground construction at underground eastern end of the ARC Tunnel had been completed.
Hudson Yards "tunnel box"
The West Side Yard is to be developed as a residential and commercial district on a platform constructed over them as part of the Hudson Yards project. "Amtrak’s engineers have determined that the only place they can bring these new tunnels into Manhattan is under Hudson Yards, along a Long Island Railroad right of way,” Schumer said. That might conflict with the Hudson Yards project, which broke ground in late 2012. In February 2013, Amtrak officials said they would commission a 800 ft (240 m) "tunnel box" to preserve a right-of-way for future use. The project would be built using $120 million to $150 million in federal funds. in June 2013 it was annouced that $183 million had been dedicated to the "tunnel box" as part of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.
New York Penn
Located beneath Pennsylvania Plaza, the office, entertainment and hotel complex that includes Madison Square Garden, Penn Station is used by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), and is served by several New York City Subway lines. Since 1976, the station has seen weekday train movements increase 89%, from 661 to 1,248, and is considered to be at capacity. In 2010, the station saw 550,000 daily boardings/alightings.
In the early 1990s, then-New York Senator Daniel Moynihan announced plans to convert portions of the James Farley Post Office to a train station. Opened in 1912, soon after the original Pennsylvania Station, the landmark building is the city's main post office. It stands across from Penn Plaza and is built over tracks approaching the station from the west.
The project languished for almost two decades, until the final chunk of the $267 million in funding for the first phase of the conversion was secured in early 2010. The phase will expand and improve the 33rd Street Connector between Penn Station and its West End Concourse. Located under the grand staircase of the post office, the concourse will be widened to serve nine of Pennsylvania Station's 11 platforms, and new street entrances will be opened from the southeast and northeast corners of the Farley building. Some $169 million provided by federal and state sources was already in place when a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant arrived in early 2010. A ceremonial groundbreaking and signing for the $83 million in funds took place in October.
No timetable has been set for further phases, which may include public-private partnerships. In April 2011 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state had applied for $49.8 million in federal funding for the final design of Phase 2 of the station's conversion., but was not honored.
The Gateway Project will have little effect on the first phase of the Farley conversion. The second phase of the renovation is planned to make the post office Amtrak's New York Gateway, though in December 2011 it said that it would likely be unable to afford increased operating costs if it should re-locate. The unsuccessful application leaves the project unfunded. The agency redeveloping the building is being folded into the PANYNJ in the belief that it can better handle and oversee reconstruction as well as provide or secure monies. In May 2012, the PANYNJ announced that a $270 million contract for the first phase, including that the concourse expansion under 8th Avenue had been awarded. Completion is expected sometime in 2016.
Penn Station South
Penn Station South will be located on the block south of the current New York Penn Station at 31st Street and diagonally across Eighth Avenue from the post office, on land which is currently privately held. While the PANYNJ had been acquiring land for ARC along its route, acquisition south of the station has not begun. It is likely the entire block would be razed and made available for highrise construction after completion of the station. Plans call for seven tracks served by four platforms in what will be a terminal annex to the entire station complex. In April 2011 Amtrak requested $50 million in federal funding for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis.
New Brunswick-Trenton high-speed upgrade
In May 2011, $450 million was dedicated to increase capacity on one of the NEC's busiest segments, a 24-mile (39 km) section between New Brunswick and Trenton. The planned six-year project will upgrade signals and electrical power systems, including catenary wires, to improve reliability, increase train speeds, and allow more frequent high-speed trains. In July 2011, a bill passed by the House of Representatives threatened funding for the project and others announced at the same time, but the money was released the following month. The project, along with the purchase of new train sets, is expected to raise speeds on the segment to 180 mph (290 km/h). In September 2012, Acela test trains hit 165 mph (266 km/h) over the segment. (The 2012 tests did not break the longtime record on this stretch of track: 170 mph (270 km/h), set on December 20, 1967, by the U.S.-built UAC TurboTrain. This also stands as the record top speed for a North American train.)
Harold Interlocking and Hutchinson River
Over 750 LIRR, NJT, and Amtrak trains travel through the Harold Interlocking everyday, causing frequent conflicts and delays. In May 2011, a $294.7 million federal grant was awarded to address congestion the USA's busiest rail junction and part of the Sunnyside Yard in Queens. The work will allow for a dedicated tracks to the New York Connecting Railroad right of way for AMTK trains arriving from or bound for New England, thus avoiding NJT and LIRR traffic. A new flyover will allow Amtrak trains to travel through the interlocking separately from LIRR trains, and NJ TRANSIT trains on their way to Sunnyside. Financing for the project was placed in jeopardy by House of Representatives in July 2011 which voted to divert the funding to unrelated projects., but was later obligated so that work on the project can begin in 2012.
Amtrak has applied for $15 million for the environmental impact studies and preliminary engineering design to examine replacement options for the more than 100-year-old, low-level movable rail bridge (just west of Pelham Bridge) over the Hutchinson River in The Bronx. The goal is for a new bridge to support expanded service and speeds up to 110 mph (177 km/h).
7 Subway service
While not part of the Gateway Project, Amtrak's announcement included a proposal to extend the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) 7 Subway Extension five blocks east to New York Penn Station from the currently planned station at 11th Avenue and 34th Street. This would provide service to the Javits Convention Center and a one seat ride to Grand Central Terminal, the city's other major train terminal on the East Side of Manhattan at 42nd Street. Shortly before the introduction of Gateway, the New York City Economic Development Corporation voted to budget up to $250,000 for a feasibility study of a Hudson River tunnel for an extension to Secaucus Junction awarded to Parsons Brinckerhoff, a major engineering firm that had been working on the ARC tunnel. In October 2011, Bloomberg reiterated his support for the NJ extension, estimated to cost around $10 billion and take ten years to complete, indicating that he would give approval by the end of his third term in 2013. Environmental-impact studies and a full business plan are required before the proposal proceeds. It was likely that the two projects - Gateway and the subway line - would have been in competition for funding. In April 2012, citing budget considerations, the director of the MTA effectively scuttled the project and said that it was doubtful the extension would be built in the foreseeable future, suggesting that the Gateway Project was a much more likely solution to congestion at Hudson River crossings. The report was released in April 2013.
- Acela Express
- Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel - proposed project
- High-speed rail in the United States
- List of fixed crossings of the North River (Hudson River)
- List of bridges, tunnels, and cuts in Hudson County, New Jersey
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