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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Major Milestone for the Hudson Tunnel Project

pdubey@v1-media.com on June 1, 2021 - in News, Transit, Transportation

Action Allows Project of National Significance to Advance

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today jointly issued the Final Environment Impact Statement (Final EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) for the Hudson Tunnel Project. Completion of the Final EIS and ROD represents U.S. DOT’s commitment to working with New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority), in coordination with other project partners including Amtrak and the Gateway Development Commission (GDC), to advance the Hudson Tunnel Project towards final design and construction.

 U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said, “This is a big step for the Northeast, and for the entire country, as these tunnels connect so many people, jobs, and businesses. This decision is also an important reminder that we are still capable of working together to advance ambitious projects that can make life better for people, connect communities, and deliver a stronger future. Now we need to make sure to provide the funding America needs to deliver world-leading infrastructure in this region and in every part of the country.”

The Hudson Tunnel Project is one component of the Gateway Program.  Amtrak, NJ Transit, Port Authority, and the GDC are working with the other project proponents and partners, including the states of New York and New Jersey, to advance other components of the more encompassing Gateway Program.

The ROD represents completion of the Federal environmental review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).  While no Federal funding has been dedicated for the project to date, completion of these two steps is a prerequisite for FRA or FTA to direct future Federal funding to advance this project through pre-construction activities such as engineering, final design development, and property acquisition, as well as construction. 

The Final EIS incorporated changes made in response to public comments received on the Draft EIS from a broad range of stakeholders. It sets forth a rigorous evaluation of the “Preferred Alternative,” which consists of: construction of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, including railroad infrastructure in New Jersey and New York connecting the new rail tunnel to the existing Northeast Corridor and rehabilitating the existing NEC tunnel beneath the Hudson River, known as the North River Tunnel, once the new tunnel is complete. When the rehabilitation is complete, both the existing and new tunnels would be in service, providing redundant capacity and increased operational flexibility for both Amtrak and NJ Transit.

FRA officially started the NEPA review for the project in May 2016. FRA was the lead federal agency for the NEPA Review, and FTA was a NEPA Cooperating Agency, that adopted the FEIS and is now issuing a joint ROD with FRA.  The United States Army Corps of Engineers was also a NEPA Cooperating Agency, and if appropriate, will rely on the FEIS to fulfill its NEPA obligations if it issues a Department of Army permit for the project, anticipated to occur this fall. 

The FEIS and ROD can be accessed on the FRA webpage for the project and via the Project website, as well as select libraries and other publicly accessible locations listed on that website.  FRA will request that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publish a Notice of Availability for the FEIS in the Federal Register in June.

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