Construction began Monday on a project that officials hope is the next step in building an additional Hudson River train crossing linking Manhattan with New Jersey.
Work on the 800-foot-long concrete casing at the Hudson Yards Development is part of the proposed Gateway Program, which would create the first new rail link between Penn Station and New Jersey in more than a century.
When that tunnel would be built is still unknown because federal funding has not been approved. But even without the funding to start digging, officials said the project will protect any future tunnel construction from storm flooding.
"There is no better way to create jobs in New York than to build and update our infrastructure," said Sen. Charles Schumer at a news conference attended by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and officials with Amtrak and the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
The concrete casing sets the stage for the creation of tracks that would run under Hudson Yards and would provide more track for the 450 trains that enter Penn Station daily from New Jersey. Officials said the casings are designed to withstand major flooding.
The 103-year-old tunnels leading into Penn Station were closed for as much as two weeks after Superstorm Sandy. The funding for the $185-million construction, set to be complete in two years, came from federal relief money.
Copyright 2013 - amNewYork, New York