Gateway Project

Gateway Project
The Gateway Project shown in red would parallel the current right-of-way

The Gateway Project is a proposed American rail expansion project to build a high-speed rail right-of-way and to alleviate the bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. The project would create routing alternatives and add 25 train slots during peak periods to the current system used by Amtrak (AMTK) and New Jersey Transit (NJT).

The new right of way is seen as one alternative solution to the ever-increasing congestion at crossings of the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. The planned route parallels the current one crossing the New Jersey Meadowlands and the river between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station (NYPS) in Midtown Manhattan. While some previously planned improvements already underway have been incorporated into the new Gateway plan, major new infrastructure includes new rail bridges, new tunnels under the Hudson Palisades and the river, the conversion of parts of the James Farley Post Office into a rail station, and a new terminal annex to NYPS.

The project was unveiled in February 2011 after the 2010 cancellation of the somewhat similar Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project. Funding for the project, expected to cost $13.5 billion and be completed in 2020, remains unclear.


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.[1][2][3][4] 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.[5][6][7] In April 2011, Amtrak applied for $1.3 billion in funding for NEC rail corridor improvements from the United States Department of Transportation to be allocated to Gateway and related projects. [8] [9]

Two parts of the project, the replacement of the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and development of Moynihan Station in Manhattan, are underway. Environmental impact statements are completed and the design and engineering of the new bridges has begun.[10][11][12][13][14] 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.[15] Some funding for the projects comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The announcement was a preliminary plan for the project, which is estimated to have a cost of $13.5 billion and has a projected completion date of 2020. The source of further funding remains unclear as does how any work done for ARC may be used. More than $600 million had been spent on that project.[16] A $15 million earmark for design had been appropriated by the US Senate; the bill must still pass approval by House of Representatives committee.[17][18]



PRR operations in 1912

The right-of-way was originally developed by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)[19] 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).[20] The Dock Bridge over the Passaic River was opened in conjunction with adjacent new Pennsylvania Station (Newark) in 1935.[21][22] In 1937, the H&M was extended over a second span, making the transfer in the meadows redundant.[23]

In 1949, the PRR discontinued its ferry system on the Hudson and in 1961 closed its Exchange Place station.[24] In 1962, it agreed to the demolition of its Manhattan station in exchange for a smaller one under a new Madison Square Garden.[25] 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.[20][26] 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.[27] Conrail was created in 1976 to bail out numerous Northeast railroads, including the commuter service on the CNJ and the LV.[28][29] In 1983, when the corporation divested it 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.[30]

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.[31] In 1996, it began its Midtown Direct service, rerouting some trains from the west which previously terminated at Hoboken Terminal to New York Penn.[32][33] 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[34]) increased from 147 to 438.[3]

Since the 1976 takeover, the number of weekday train movements at New York Penn Station, including those of Amtrak, NJT, and Long Island Railroad (LIRR), has increased 89%, from 661 to 1248, and is considered to be at capacity.[3] In 2010, the station saw 550,000 daily boardings/alightings.[7][35][36]

Trans-Hudson crossings

The Gateway Project would improve a key section of the U.S. Northeast Corridor rail network where many New Jersey Transit lines converge with Amtrak to cross the Hudson River

The other rail system crossing the Hudson was developed by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, partially in conjunction with the PRR,[37] and taken over by PANYNJ in 1962.[38] 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.[39]

There are three vehicular crossings of the lower Hudson River.[40] 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.[41] The Lincoln Tunnel, composed of three tubes opened in 1937, 1945 and 1954,[42] is the busiest tunnel 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.[43] While there are HOV lanes to the tunnel there are often long delays due to traffic congestion and the capacity of bus lanes at the bus terminal to handle passengers.[44][45]

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.[46] 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 2016.

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.[47][48] While Amtrak had acknowledged that the region represented a bottleneck in the national system and had originally planned to complete work by 2040,[49] 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.[50] That project, which did not include direct Amtrak participation[49][51] was cancelled in October 2010 by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who cited potential cost overruns.[52] 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.[6][49][51] Amtrak said it was not interested in purchasing any of the work.[53] Senator Menendez later said some preparatory work done for ARC may be used for the new project.[54]

Existing and new infrastructure along right of way

The current route, approximately 11 miles long, includes infrastructure that is more than 100 years old. The system operates at capacity during peak hours, allowing for 23 trains per hour, and limits speed for safety reasons. The new high-speed route would be built parallel to the current right of way, providing dispatching alternatives, potential increases in velocity, and an additional maximum of 25 train slots 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

40°44′05″N 74°9′51″W / 40.73472°N 74.16417°W / 40.73472; -74.16417

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.[55] 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 is undergoing a $173 million reconstruction and expansion funded by the PANY/NJ which owns and operates the PATH rapid transit system. It is anticipated that use of the station will increase significantly with continued development in the vicinity, which includes the Red Bull Arena.[56]

Kearny Meadows

40°44′37″N 74°07′36″W / 40.7435°N 74.1267°W / 40.7435; -74.1267 (Kearny Junction)

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 are able to switch tracks dependent on their terminal of origination or destination, enabling Midtown Direct trains on the Morris and Essex Lines to join or depart the Northeast Corridor.[32][33] The single track limited-use Waterfront Connection connects some lines using diesel trains on Hoboken Terminal trips with the NEC to the west.[31] Currently the NEC runs on two tracks northeast of the junction. Plans call for expansion to four tracks, requiring the construction of bridges[3] in the Kearny Meadows at Newark Turnpike and Belleville Turnpike.

Portal Bridge

40°45′13″N 74°5′41″W / 40.75361°N 74.09472°W / 40.75361; -74.09472 (Portal Bridge)

The current Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus has been in operation since 1910. The rail only swing bridge is 961 feet long and supports two tracks.[11] The height of its lowest beams are 23 feet above the water surface necessitating regular opening for traffic in the shipping channel[57] though not during weekday rush hours when trains have priority.[11][58] Requiring frequent servicing, it is costly to maintain and limits the number of crossings as well as train speeds.[11][57]

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, after completion of environmental impact statements.[11] In 2009 New Jersey applied for funding for project from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and on January 28, 2010, received $38.5 million for design.[59] Current plans call for two two-track bridges.[3] Cycling advocates, with the support of Senator Lautenberg, are lobbying for the inclusion of bike paths as part of the East Coast Greenway.[13][60] Construction was scheduled to begin in 2010, and the new bridges are scheduled to be completed in 2017, at which time the Portal Bridge will be dismantled.[2][3][10][11][50][61] An April 2011 an application for $570 million for construction was made by Amtrak to US DOT. New Jersey is expected to contribute $150 million.[9]

Secaucus Junction

40°45′42″N 74°04′30″W / 40.76161°N 74.074985°W / 40.76161; -74.074985

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,[62] plans for the Gateway Project do not. Amtrak trains pass through the station, but do not stop there, nor are there plans to include an Amtrak stop.[3]

Gateway Tunnel

The Gateway Tunnel will join the current right of way at south side (left). A new overhead crossover track will continue to the current Penn Station and points east.

The current North River Tunnels allow for 23 one-way crossings per hour during peak periods.[63] The ARC Tunnel was to be built in three sections: under the Hudson Palisades, the Hudson River, and the streets of Manhattan where it would have dead-ended. The Gateway Tunnel will likely be built along the same footprint of its first two parts, but will enable trains to join the current interlocking once it emerges. A flying junction is planned for later stages.[3] This will allow AMTK and NJT continued access to the East River Tunnels and Sunnyside Yards, used for staging and storage, and for use by Amtrak's NEC through-service trains. Capacity on the system will be increased by an additional 25 trains per hour. In April 2011 requested $188 million in federal funding for preliminary engineering studies and environmental analysis.[8][9]

Palisades Tunnel

40°45′56″N 74°2′14″W / 40.76556°N 74.03722°W / 40.76556; -74.03722 (Gateway Palisades Tunnel)

Initial work for the ARC Tunnel had begun before its cancellation. The project's groundbreaking was held on June 8, 2009.[64] at the site of new underpass at Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen where western portal of the tunnel through Hudson Palisades would have been located, just south of that of the North River Tunnels. The first major tunneling contract for the project had been awarded on May 5, 2010 to Skanska.[65][66] The land at its portal, which cost $26.3 million, is now owned by NJT.[67] According to maps released at the announcement of the Gateway Project the tunnel under the Palisades will follow the same route to a location near the Weehawken-Hoboken border.[3]

Hudson River Tunnel

40°45′17″N 74°01′00″W / 40.75479°N 74.01677°W / 40.75479; -74.01677

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.[3] Engineering studies for ARC along this route had been deemed unfeasible.[68] The yards are slated to be developed as a residential and commercial district on platform constructed over them as part of Hudson Yards.[69][70] Surveys of properties which would or would not be affected by underground construction at underground eastern end of the ARC Tunnel had been completed.[71]

New York Penn

40°45′02″N 73°59′38″W / 40.750638°N 73.993899°W / 40.750638; -73.993899

The original Pennsylvania Station (New York City) was completed in 1910. The station's air rights were optioned in the 1950s and called for the demolition of the head-house and train shed, while the tracks, well below street level, would remain. Demolition began in October 1963. The Pennsylvania Plaza complex, including Madison Square Garden, was completed in 1968.[25] The station is used by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Railroad, and is served by several New York City Subway lines.

Moynihan Station

40°45′4.4″N 73°59′42.64″W / 40.751222°N 73.9951778°W / 40.751222; -73.9951778

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.[35][72] 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.[73][74]

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.[75] Some $169 million provided by federal and state sources was already in place[76] when a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant arrived in early 2010.[14] A ceremonial groundbreaking and signing for the $83 million in funds took place in October.[15]

No timetable has been set for further phases, which may include public-private partnerships.[77] 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.[78]

The Gateway Project will have little effect on the first phase of the Farley conversion, though some trains will be routed under it from the new tunnels.[3]

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.[4] It is likely the entire block would be razed and made available for highrise construction after completion of the station.[79] Plans call for seven tracks served by four platforms in what will be a terminal annex to the entire station complex.[3] In April 2011 Amtrak requested $50 million in federal funding for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis.[8][9]

Related projects

Other projects in Tri-State (NY-NJ-CT) metropolitan area are planned as part of the NEC Next Generation High Speed Rail, including the northern and southern approaches to the Gateway Project.

New Brunswick-Trenton

In May 2011, $450 million was dedicated to a six-year project to support capacity increases on one of the busiest segments on the NEC. The project is designed to upgrade electrical power, signal systems and overhead catenary wires on a 24 mile section between New Brunswick and Trenton to improve reliability, increase speeds up to 160 mph (260 km/h), and support more frequent high-speed service.[80][81][82] Funding for the project and others announced at the same time had not been "obligated" by Congress and may be diverted by a bill passed by the House of Representtatives in July 2011.[83][84]

Harold Interlocking and Hutchinson River

In May 2011, a $294.7 million federal grant was awarded to address congestion at Harold Interlocking, 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.[85][86][87] Financing for the project was placed in jeopardy by House of Representtatives in July 2011 which voted to divert the funding to unrelated projects.[84]

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 kph).[88]

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 10th 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.[3] 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.[89][90]

See also

  • List of fixed crossings of the North River (Hudson River)
  • List of bridges, tunnels, and cuts in Hudson County, New Jersey
  • New York Tunnel Extension


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