FRA commits to completion date of environmental review and permitting for Hudson Tunnel Project

April 12, 2021
According to the federal permitting dashboard, the FRA plans to complete the EIS by May 28, 2021.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is working with New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and cooperating and participating agencies to prepare a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Hudson Tunnel Project, which FRA says will be completed by May 28, 2021.

The FRA is the lead agency preparing the EIS and NJ Transit and PANYNJ are joint lead agencies in the development of the EIS. The Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are cooperating agencies. FRA is coordinating compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106) with the NEPA process.

“NJ Transit is a proud partner in the resumption and advancement of this critical project. The Hudson Tunnel Project will directly benefit our customers with more reliable and resilient rail service in one of most congested areas of the nation,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “We appreciate the support of President Biden and [U.S. Department of Transportation] Secretary Buttigieg, as well as [New Jersey] Gov. [Phil] Murphy, [New Jersey Department of Transportation] Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti and New Jersey’s Congressional delegation in accelerating this vital project. We look forward to working with the FRA to finalize the FEIS and ROD as quickly as possible.”

The project is intended to preserve the current functionality of the Northeast Corridor’s (NEC) Hudson River rail crossing between New Jersey and New York and strengthen the resilience of the NEC. The project includes construction of a new two-track rail tunnel on the Northeast Corridor, connecting New Jersey to Penn Station New York (PSNY) beneath the Hudson River, and includes railroad infrastructure in New Jersey and New York connecting the new rail tunnel to the existing NEC and rehabilitation of the existing two-track NEC tunnel beneath the Hudson River, known as the North River Tunnel.

"Now with new leadership in Washington, this project is finally getting the prioritization it deserves. We are thankful to President Biden and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for committing to finish the project's environmental review by May 28,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “This announcement, combined with previous actions by the Biden Administration to advance the nation's first congestion pricing program in New York City, is proof that New York finally has a true partner in Washington, and we look forward to continuing to work together on these important projects that will restore New York's role as a global leader in infrastructure."

The North River Tunnel, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2021, is used by Amtrak for intercity passenger rail service and by NJ Transit for commuter rail service. The tunnel has two separate tubes, each accommodating a single track for electrically powered trains, and extends approximately 2.5 miles from the tunnel portal in North Bergen, N.J., to Penn Station, New York, NY.

The Gateway Development Commissioners released the following statement, commending the FRA for its commitment to completing the EIS:

"The USDOT’s commitment to finish the Hudson Tunnel Project environmental review by May 28 is the latest demonstration of the Biden Administration’s clear resolve to expedite the project and start construction as soon as possible.

For more than three years, the most urgent infrastructure project in America languished as the previous administration 'stopped the clock' on environmental review, freezing the dashboard in March 2018. Two weeks ago, Secretary Buttigieg testified that the review would be done by the second quarter of this year. And today, US DOT’s public commitment to a completion date restarts the clock. Finally, we have a federal partner who is backing up words with actions.

With a Record of Decision, early work including property acquisition can advance, with major construction to follow, further moving the Hudson Tunnel Project from concept to reality.”

The project will rehabilitate the North River Tunnel without disrupting existing levels of train service and provide redundant capability for rail service crossing the Hudson River. To perform the needed rehabilitation in the existing North River Tunnel, each tube of the tunnel will need to be closed for more than a year. However, rehabilitation needs to be accomplished without unacceptable reductions in weekday service. Therefore, the project will first include construction of a new tunnel with two new rail tubes beneath the Hudson River (the Hudson Tunnel) that can maintain the existing level of train service while the damaged tubes in the North River Tunnel are taken out of service one at a time for rehabilitation. Once the North River Tunnel rehabilitation is complete, both the old and new tunnels will be in service, providing redundant capacity and increased operational flexibility for Amtrak and NJ Transit. 

About the Author

Megan Perrero | Associate Editor

Megan Perrero is an award-winning B2B journalist. She is the associate editor of Mass Transit magazine where she assists with developing the newsletters and social media posts, along with the online and print content. She is currently a board member for Latinos in Transit and serves on the APTA Marketing and Communications Committee. She’s based out of Chicago, Ill.

Prior to joining the team, Perrero gained experience covering the manufacturing and processing food and beverage industry, the agriculture industry and the library industry.

Perrero is a Columbia College Chicago alumna where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a concentration in magazine writing and a minor in public relations.