Hudson River Tunnel Project Moves Ahead as States Agree to Share Costs

Jul 05, 2022 · 57 comments
Dave (New Jersey)
How much of this money will be wasted or outright stolen by unions?
MissFlip (NJ)
So now NJ is on the hook for any cost overruns and we are going to pay for it by issuing another bunch of bonds, to add to our ever expanding debt? What a deal! With this guy Murphy in charge, you’ve got to wonder how he ever made money in the private sector. He must of went to the same school as Corzine, as voodoo economics and piling on debt, seems to be the norm with these democrats.
Thomas (New York)
@MissFlip It's really not fair! You should get all the functions of government without having to pay for them! But that's life: a series of transactions; even the Tooth Fairy wouldn't give you a quarter without getting a tooth.
Slick (Houston)
Billions in Pork NY and NJ policticians, predominately Dems in charge Unions running show What could possibly go wrong?
elliott (vermont)
...havent we heard all this before?...dont hold your breath...
MR (Chicago)
Didn't Christie torpedo this project when he was governor of NJ?
A Patriotic American (USA)
Thank God. This project should have been done two decades ago. Sadly, the GOP in Washington would not backstop the money with guarantees, all but dooming it to languish. Traffic isn't getting any better between NY / NJ. Everyone (yes, everyone) knows this. Build the Tunnel. Heck, build two so we're actually ahead of the curve for once.
jg (ca)
A map showing location of proposed tunnels and bridge would be nice
Rick (Summit)
The deal Christie vetoed was New York, New Jersey and the Federal government each put up $2 billion with New Jersey paying the overage. The tunnel is now budgeted at $14 billion so Jersey would have been on the hook for $10 billion. Very smart to veto that and wait for a better deal. Ironic that a deal is reached now when train commuting has completely gone out of style. Maybe it will come back when this is built and people tire of working from home.
Stumpy Dowd (NYC)
Comparing 2010 costs to 2022 costs without an inflation adjustment is a silly exercise. The Tunnel Christie spiked would have been completed in 2018, so booking this as a ‘win’ for Christie seems like wishful thinking. Something to think about in the traffic jam while you wait for the new tunnel to be ready.
Jasr (NH)
The irony of Christie blocking this project is that it will likely benefit northern New Jersey even more than New York.
Ponk (Philadelphia)
I believe there needs to be a second terminal to serve the Wall Street area.
Steve (Los Angeles, CA)
@Ponk it's called the PATH train from Hoboken.
Nathan (YTBD)
My irritation over this was part of why I finally left the area, and the reporting on it has been abysmal. The tunnel would have been DONE by now if it were not for the Christie. He hurt NJ for GENERATIONS, and why? He wanted to run for president, so he had to claim he never raised taxes. This caused him to do sketchy things with the gas tax. So he chose to throw his own state to the lions in the name of his ambition - what a mench. And just in time - we have a tunnel, oh wait in 2030, perhaps; for what might be a massive change in how people commute in the area. It isn't the 1960's where Manhattan is a hub, and the more spokes, the better - the region needs a web of transit. Cuomo did for NY what Christie did for NJ in that the new Tappan Zee bridge should have included a rail line. It would have allowed transit for Sullivan, Ulster, and other counties. You could get on a train in Middletown and head to Newburgh or White Plains and never get in a car. Oh but casinos were such a better idea. The region has a complete lack of imagination and ambition - especially when it comes to transit. Also, NYTimes:please mention things like this when reporting on Christie? Same thing with Whitman and her lies around 9/11? Christie should be referred to as "The Gov of NJ with the lowest approval ratings in modern memory," along with Cuomo as "the disgraced former governor of NY." Given NYT is read around the world, we should not assume people know what failures these governors are.
Avenue Be (NYC)
A dozen years late and twice the cost--fiscal conservatism in the style of Chris Christie
Wig (Somerville MA)
This kind of article really needs plans and pictures, or at the minimum really good links to same. Maybe you can do a followup in the near future? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
DJG (Severn, MD)
A new train tunnel is necessary, but the I-80 & I-95 exchange a little farther north is even more in need. This is one of the biggest traffic bottlenecks in the country causing delays in both directions over the George Washington Bridge. Ask Chris Christi if you don’t believe it?
greg (Upstate New York)
Now that New York and New Jersey have sane, forward-looking Governors the metro area may see projects that are needed and will serve the people of the area supported. Christie left office the most unpopular Governor in the Galaxy and Cuomo's giant ego now orbits Saturn.
MEGL (Flemington, NJ)
Yippee! A new tunnel! And only $85 one-way tolls! Can’t wait!
HistoryRhymes (NJ)
Will crash and burn. Tristate area has no vision of the future - all our infrastructure is from the New Deal era or before. Sad.
ManhattanWilliam (East Village, NYC)
As any real New Yorker knows when these things are announced, "we'll believe it when we see it."
Jeff (New Albany, OH)
Anyone care to "estimate" how much over budget it goes and how much longer than predicted it takes to complete?
Bklyn (Brooklyn NY)
Looking back on NJ Governor Murphy's original economic platform, now would be the perfect time to raise infrastructure funding through the tool of public banking. Even better, Governor Hochul could ditto establishment of a public bank in NYS and free the citizens of NYS of taxation enslavement.
Bob (East Side)
Maybe they can hire the same environmental lawyers, city planning consultants, global engineering firms, massive general contractors, local sub-contractors, unions with the same work-rules, and suppliers with the same keenness to compete with each other. You know, like the Grand Central to Penn Station tunnel. Public transportation is more than moving people and goods safely, efficiently, reliably and economically. There is real money to be made here, and let's make sure those that have lobbied and otherwise put themselves in a position to profit from this most certainly do.
A Patriotic American (USA)
@Bob Your snark aside, you seem to be the very type of person who whines about the cost of things...and demands that every penny be accounted for in an infrastructure project. Having worked on some large projects, you need to understand: It takes time, effort and coordination to make sure the job is done correctly. That, Bob, cost money.
Bob (East Side)
@A Patriotic American I'd like to understand the cost per km/mile for rail tunnels in the U.K., Japan, and Germany. They seem to do things correctly. In my travel experience, very correctly.
Thomas (New York)
@Bob Snark aside, that's not a bad idea. I'd like to see such an article, or a series, with analysis of the reasons for any differences in costs. Of course (no sarcasm intended), that too would cost money.
Pathfox (Kansas)
Great news! After many years of commuting - both ways - to and from NYC and NJ, by bus and train, this will be a huge relief in time (thought not in tolls!) Here's hoping both states have strong oversight to keep out corruption.
@Pathfox Keep out corruption? Who is still controlling the construction unions in NJ and NY? That may be a problem unless someone pays them off.
pjc (Cleveland)
The commuter tunnel is NY's sweetener to get the real payday, which is the bridge. The bridge moves goods.
Edward Ashton, Jr. (Queens, NY)
Do you know something I (and the writers of this article) don’t know? Because it sounds to me, just from reading this piece, like the bridge is a rail bridge that will carry Amtrak and NJ Transit passenger trains over the Hackensack River in nearby Jersey, not a freight rail bridge or a vehicle bridge.
Thomas (New York)
Has there ever been a project so bogged down in politics? First Christie, after funding was all approved, backed out abruptly, saying he feared NJ would be burdened with cost overruns (I think he just swiped the money so he wouldn't have to raise the gasoline tax, which was the country's lowest). Then Cuomo became petulant. When they finally made up, like two little kids made to shake hands in the playground, Trump killed the federal funding because NY hadn't voted for him. Now there are adults in all three offices, and Voila! I just hope they move quickly, before the next snit stops things again; it's the most needed infrastructure project in the country.
@Thomas It is about dang time! Much needed infrastructure and jobs = win/win. Yes, adults in the room. They will certainly not be naming it the Christie-Cuomo Tunnel!
MJ (Mountain Junky) (Chicago)
Good luck! I wish infrastructure project could be finished on time on on budge here. I am not suggesting in any way we should use next to salve labor, but it is worth noting the Burj Kalifa cost $1.5 billion to build, while One World Trade Center cost $3.9 billion. Nearly 2.5 times more for a much smaller building. It wasn't all labor costs. It is ridiculous how much it cost to get things built here in the USA. And it is a big reason why we are falling further and further behind with our infrastructure.
Josh Hill (New London)
@MJ (Mountain Junky) Well, as you said it, slave labor. If American construction workers lived in miserable conditions without being allowed to leave, 1 WTC would be cheaper as well.
"New Jersey will be responsible for cost overruns caused by delays and rising construction costs, the memorandum states." Wait until this bill comes in! East Side Access is at least 3x over budget, I'm sure that this project will equal or exceed that. Our inability to build critical infrastructure at a reasonable price, on-budget and on-time is one reason why these projects are so difficult to get off the ground. Politically connected consulting, engineering and construction firms will "win" the bidding. Just make sure to get your political donations in early and provide lots of no-show jobs for the patronage pit. For entertainment purposes, have a look at the current Portal Bridge. It traverses a glorified creek and its replacement will cost an eye-watering $2bln!
George S. (NYC)
As someone who has long-followed the saga of this critical infrastructure project I can only hope that at last it may happen. But after so many fitful years of start-stop inability of either the States and the Feds to get this done -- I remain skeptical. Moreover, this article notes that also included is replacement of the rail bridge over the Hackensack River. Over thirty-five years ago when I worked in finance at New Jersey Transit the condition of this bridge was of great concern. Back then engineering studies showed how deteriorated this vital bridge link had become. Our insurance manager back then used to wonder how we'd ever deal with the claims if the bridge collapsed with a trainload of passengers on it. Yet nothing's been done since even then. The Gateway Tunnel etc. isn't some kind of "nice to have" infrastructure project. It is vital to the regional economy and the well-being of the people who ride those trains.
a.p.b. (california)
This is a project primarily to benefit the denizens of Wall Street, paid for by taxpayers in NY, NY, and indeed, USA. Unless those costs will be completely refunded to the taxpayers from user fees, this project should not be build. Just another transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich.
R.F. (Shelburne Falls, MA)
@a.p.b. Wrong. If you lived in the NY Metro area you’d know how essential these tunnels are to the economy of that area, and not just to Wall St. Manhattan is an island and the two existing train tunnels are very old and in dire need of repairs that can’t happen until another tunnel is built. But, then again, you’re from CA where few people understand mass transit
Dan (NJ)
@a.p.b. Respectfully and strongly disagree here. This will benefit the million commuters in NJ who access Manhattan via commuter rail, as well as the companies that they work for that need them to be able to show up on time. These tunnels are also used by Amtrak and are a critical link between the northern and southern half of the Northeast Corridor. This should have been done 10 years ago, but better late than never I guess.
Jack be Quick (Albany)
@a.p.b. We New Yorkers have paid (through our federal taxes) for a substantial portion of the water system that keeps S. CA from drying up and blowing away. Don't begrudge us a relatively few bucks to pay for this tunnel 'cause the next time you need water. we may not be interested in helping you.
Ndcurban (Washington DC)
Let’s hope this happens. The rail infrastructure in the northeast corridor requires a significant investment. Certainly the NY-NJ tunnels and bridges are key, but the B&P tunnel in Baltimore, Washington Union Station tracks and First Street tunnel, Long Bridge, and tracks/signals throughout need massive attention. Acela current and new cars are nice enough, but without track improvements, signal improvements, grade separation throughout, truly high speed operation will remain a vision. Ironically, Amtrak engines are quite capable of high speeds - the track infrastructure is not. Average ‘express’ travel time between Washington and New York is essentially unchanged from 1939.
Steve Crouse (CT)
@Ndcurban ...............also unchanged from 1939 are the unworkable State systems for financing our now collapsed infrastructure , especially rail. The modern countries of E/A have their Fed. agencies involved in such basic needs. The US continues to 'sub-out' to state bureaus, the design and financing locally, which continues to provide third world results. This 'local' NY/NJ effort is more of the same.
Technite (Michigan)
Finally an belated agreement on the NJ/NYC tunnel. The transportation link between NYC & NJ has been woefully inadequate for decades. The existing train tunnels are old, crumpling, and needing major reconstruction. This new tunnel will certainly address the shortfalls.
Ben (Miami, Fl)
Hoping this project will contain modern thinking that includes bike and PEV lanes. This will allow NYC people, who do not have or want cars, to get across the Hudson to access NJ without having to ride all the way north to the GWB. It would also allow many NJ residents to enter NYC without space grabbing, traffic causing vehicles. Whether for pleasure or work commute. If considered from the early design phase, this small inclusion would likely add little to the overall cost yet add great value in the form of huge quality of life increases to people on both sides of the river. How great it would be to have a green alternate option to cars and crowded trains. Hoping the planners take this concept into account. More day tripping cars into NYC, we really do not need. Bikes and PEV's are silent, super energy efficient, and take up little to no space. A no brainer in modern times. Accommodate them, please.
Peter (NY)
@Ben While I can appreciate increasing bike/pedestrian use in the NE corridor, and there might be some provisions for them on the proposed bridge (that doesn't reach NYC anyway), all this is for train tunnels to my understanding. I'm not the best bike rider there is but I'm pretty sure a train tunnel, even with adequate space available, is not a place I'd like to either walk or ride a bike as an alternative, and there will be no car transit. Seems like it would be kinda smokey with diesel exhausts and they tend to be dark (at least the ones I currently know).
Thomas (New York)
@Ben When I rode the North London Line of British Rail in the '70s, there was a baggage car for bikes with an attendant. I handed him my bike, rode in the nearest coach, and he had the bike at the door of the baggage car at my stop. Cheap and easy; they could just add a baggage car to the trains. Maybe too obvious for us sophisticates, though.
VK (New York)
@Ben Short of building a separate tunnel, it's simply unsafe to ride a bike along fast moving trains in a confined space. Riders would be blown off their bikes by the air pushed by trains. I'm not even talking about the air quality and the noise level in the tunnel. Name a rail tunnel in the world that includes bike lanes.
Peter (New York)
Wasn't the Portal North Bridge already approved and under construction? Replacing the existing swing bridge? Portal South Bridge is the new one that's supposed to be coupled with the new tunnels - providing a 4-track approach to them over the Hackensack River.
R.F. (Shelburne Falls, MA)
I'm glad to hear that this project might now be going forward, but can you imagine how much money would have been saved if Christie hadn't canceled it in 2010, I'd be curious to know what the budget was for it then compared to now. And more importantly, if Christie hadn't cancelled it then, it would be finished by now. Sooner or later the existing tunnels need to be shut down for much needed repairs, and that can't be done till the new tunnels are built. It needs to happen ASAP
Sisko24 (metro New York)
@R.F. While I don't generally agree with the former NJ Governor on much, his decision to cancel that former tunnel was the correct one. It was oddly designed in such a way that it would've terminated in a place best described as Macy's sub-sub basement. It would've required much more additional spending on infrastructure which only NJ Transit would use thus making it both too costly and inflexible for the multiple current and future tenants (Amtrak, NJ Transit, LIRR, and Metro-North) who are envisaged as coming to NY Penn.
BigFootMN (Lost Lake, MN)
@R.F. Not only would it be cheaper (probably by 30% or more) but it would also be DONE.
A Patriotic American (USA)
@Sisko24 Nonsense. If Big Boy Christie had spent more time serving the people of his state than playing politics (a.k.a Fort Lee lane closure scandal) to punish his rivals, this would have been in the works already.
Eugene (NYC)
It is clear that the project will not be eligible for federal reimbursement because federal law requires both states to comply with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and they do NOT. A prime violator is the Port of New York Authority, as well as the city of New York. After construction has begun, federal law allows anyone to go into federal court and clawback money already sent to the states for the project. Just wait.
jimble (Washington DC)
@Eugene Can you explain how the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices applies to infrastructure used exclusively by railroads?
Jo (Nj)
Finally. Christie and Trump really delayed and increased the cost and timing of these projects. Hopefully they will start soon. Otherwise all the money will just go to Florida and Texas.
LIChef (East Coast)
Knowing how well our bloated, inept metropolitan area transportation agencies handle these projects, it should probably be called “Giveaway.” Witness the billions (and years) spent on East Side access for the Long Island Railroad, with surprised commuters only now discovering that many of their trips to Manhattan will actually be longer.
See also