The New Jersey Rail Project is a railway expansion programme that includes the building of two commuter rail tunnels between Newark Pennsylvania station in New Jersey and another Pennsylvania station in New York. The corridor measures 14.5km and will require an investment of $13.5bn. It is proposed to be completed by 2020.

Also known as the ‘Gateway Project’, it was proposed by national rail-road operator Amtrak in February 2011 and was applied for federal funding in April 2011.

The Gateway Project is expected to increase the commuter rail capacity of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak by 65% to 33 train services an hour. It is expected to serve both intercity and high-speed trains.

The new tunnel is expected to service 13 trains and the rest will be serviced by inter-city services.

The project is a part of Amtrak’s vision to bring high-speed rail into the north-east corridor connecting New York and New Jersey.

“The existing Hudson River Bridge is a two track movable bridge.”

Lines and routes

The proposed route will be running parallel to the existing 14.5km rail line that crosses the New Jersey Meadowlands and the Hudson River Bridge located between Newark Penn station and the New York Penn station.

Project details

The Gateway Project is a replacement of the $8.7bn Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) rail plan to build a rail tunnel connecting New Jersey and Manhattan. The project had broken ground in June 2009, but was scrapped a year later due to unexpected potential costs involved in the construction of tunnels. Around $600m was already invested in the project.

The Gateway Project includes some of the already planned improvements of the ARC project such as a tunnel under the Hudson River and the expansion of New York Pennsylvania station.

Some of the projects, which began under the ARC project, also form part of the Gateway Project. These are replacement of the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey, development of Moynihan station as an extension to the New York Pennsylvania station and conversion of Farley Post Office into new Moynihan station Concourse for Amtrak trains.

“The Gateway Project includes some of the already planned improvements of the ARC.”

The Gateway Project will have seven additional tracks to enhance the existing capacity. The tunnel will also connect to the expanded Penn station in New York. The tracks will be doubled between Newark, New Jersey and Penn station.

The New York Pennsylvania station will be expanded to service 13 additional New Jersey Transit and eight Amtrak trains during peak hours. The current service caters to 20 New Jersey Transit and 12 Amtrak trains an hour.

The Gateway tunnel will allow Amtrak to service the line connecting Washington and Boston as well. A new terminus will be constructed at the New York Pennsylvania station for New Jersey Transit trains while providing ample space for Amtrak trains.

“The New York Pennsylvania station will be expanded to service 13 additional New Jersey Transit and eight Amtrak trains during peak hours.”

The expanded station will provide services to new Metro-North trains that will be connecting New York to Connecticut and will also increase capacity for the Empire Corridor and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to three and 38 trains a day respectively. Currently there are only one Empire Corridor and 37 LIRR trains operating from the station.

Construction

The existing Hudson River Bridge is a two track movable bridge. It will be developed to have four tracks allowing more number of trains to pass through during peak hours

The new Portal Bridge will have a new two-track and three-track fixed high level bridges. Construction of the bridge commenced in 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2017. The existing structure was a drawbridge that opened to navigational traffic impeding the rail services.

Farley Post Office conversion project broke ground in October 2010 and is scheduled for completion by 2016.

Finance

Amtrak is committed to contribute $50m towards the project’s preliminary engineering and design work. The operator will also take the lead in finding funding sources. The project sponsors include New York City and New Jersey Transit, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authorities of New York and New Jersey, as well as private investors.

Contractors

The main contract for Portal Bridge capacity enhancement was awarded to a joint venture led by AECOM Technology in May 2010. The contract value is $18m.

AKRF, a team led by rail engineers, operational analysts and movable bridge experts prepared the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Portal Bridge capacity enhancement project on behalf of Amtrak and NJ Transit. Urban Engineers was also a key member of the construction management team.

Operation analysis, geo-technical evaluation and re-alignment of three mile long Portal Bridge track were undertaken by Portal Partners, a tri-venture of Ganett Fleming, Jacobs and HNTB. Engineering, design and documentation preparation was done by MP Engineers on behalf of Portal Partners.  PACO Technologies provided sub-consultation services to Portal Partners.