Home Asides At Hudson Yards, an Amtrak provision for Gateway

At Hudson Yards, an Amtrak provision for Gateway

by Benjamin Kabak

Amtrak’s Gateway tunnel and its accompanying plans for high-speed rail on the Northeast Corridor are no sure thing. The costs — estimated last year at $125 billion — are astronomical, and no funding is in place. Yet, the rail provider seems intent on delivering at least the Gateway Tunnel to improve train service through New York City, and with work beginning on the Hudson Yards development, it must act soon to preserve space.

To that end, Amtrak has unveiled plans to consruct a tunnel box in the Hudson Yards space for future tunneling. “The point is we need to protect this alignment,” Petra Todorovich Messick said earlier this week. “This is sort of the last viable connection to bring tunnels under the Hudson River and connect them directly to Penn Station.”

According to other reports, construction will start in the fall with Related Cos. taking the contracting lead. A federal grant of $150 million will pay for the placeholder starter tunnels. Overall, Gateway is estimated to cost $15 billion and could be ready for revenue service by 2025 if funding is put in place. It may still be a longshot, but it’s inching closer to reality. Saving the space now could go a long way toward pushing Gateway forward.

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Christopher March 7, 2013 - 1:32 pm

Planning for the future? I’m gobsmacked!

Gary Reilly March 7, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Encouraging. Far from a guarantee, but at least the door is held open.

Christie may have cancelled ARC for all the wrong reasons, but even a blind pig finds an ear of corn now and again. Gateway is a better project.

Now lets see some stimulus money.

Adam March 7, 2013 - 2:08 pm

Connect it to South 4th St station! Placeholders unite!

John-2 March 7, 2013 - 3:12 pm

Now we’ll just see how long it takes before the hipsters find it and spraypaint it. (AFAIK, they still haven’t gotten to the upper Roosevelt Avenue shell yet…)

Someone March 7, 2013 - 4:05 pm

(…Or the East Broadway shell…)

Benjamin Kabak March 7, 2013 - 4:11 pm

There is no shell at East Broadway. There is provisioning.

Someone March 7, 2013 - 2:11 pm

FInally! An alternative to the North River tubes!

Chris March 7, 2013 - 2:13 pm

A sign of hope that someone is thinking ahead and not only of themselves.

Ant6n March 7, 2013 - 6:42 pm

This seems to make a lot of sense, and should be good news. Why do I feel like it’s too good to be true; as if later we’ll find out this will lock us into yet another bad project?

Alon Levy March 7, 2013 - 8:59 pm

My initial reaction is “Wait, why are they planning to do the launchbox in Manhattan and not in Jersey?”.

Ron March 8, 2013 - 5:25 pm

This isn’t a launch box. It’s a train tunnel. If they don’t put it in, the developer is going to put structural columns in the way that will preclude them from ever building the tunnel.

Alon Levy March 8, 2013 - 5:54 pm

But you don’t really need a tunnel to have space for one in the future. Just map two 6-meter-wide ROWs for twin bores, or one 12-meter-wide ROW for a single bore.

Ant6n March 8, 2013 - 10:08 pm

maybe that’s what they’re doing, and the 150 million is actually just paying the developers to not put columns? But then there’s also the concrete box… maybe those are the moved columns, in a manner of speaking, which now have to be paid by Amtrak?

Nathanael March 9, 2013 - 12:27 am

The approach tunnels for the new Hudson Tunnel have to go under LIRR’s West Side Yard. (And be waterproofed.) The trouble is that it is going to be damned hard to do that AFTER someone builds a building ON TOP OF LIRR’s West Side Yard.

Get it now? The reason it’s a tunnel (rather than merely foundation columns) is because it’s underneath the LIRR yard tracks. It has to be placed there before the buildings go up, because it’s just going to be too damn hard to slip the tunnel in afterwards.

The box tunnel needs to go to, roughly, the west edge of the site (where the High Line wraps around it). West of there, it’s possible to just dig a big hole.

Alon Levy March 9, 2013 - 9:21 pm

I still don’t get why the tunnel is meant to go under the yard and not parallel to the existing tunnel.

al March 11, 2013 - 3:12 pm

It is parallel to existing tunnels, and under the yard.

AG March 7, 2013 - 9:44 pm

good news to me.

JJJ March 7, 2013 - 10:33 pm

Someone tell me why the Hudson Yard developers arent buying us a tunnel?

AG March 8, 2013 - 5:49 pm

if they paid for that tunnel – they’d never make any money… so they wouldn’t develop. paying for a improvements is one thing… building a tunnel beneath the hudson is a different story.

Melvin March 8, 2013 - 1:20 am

Meanwhile in Staten Island the EDC has ignored MTA’s North Shore busway plan and intends to build the Ferris wheel project without saving the right-of-way.

Alon Levy March 8, 2013 - 5:40 am

Where is the threat to the ROW? Is it on the North Shore Branch ROW or the on-street branch going down to the Teleport?

Hank March 8, 2013 - 12:55 pm

The ROW is already preserved in the area; the rest of the ROW between Port Richmond and Jersey Street, however…

marv March 8, 2013 - 7:39 am

A bi-level railroad/subway tunnel (like the 63rd street tunnel) from Hoboken to Manhattan could both bring the #7 to NJ (from where it could then head south and serve Bayonne and Staten Island) and NJT needs. By tunneling to hoboken one is connecting to a 4 rail system with connections leading north a south. The new Hoboken station (needing to be build underground to get under the river but hopefully as cheaper cut and cover) would provide NJ riders a one stop transfer to the east side (grand central) via the #7.

From the Manhattan side of the tunnel, the rail road tunnel has better possibilities to connect to one or all of :
Penn Station
Grand Central (from the south)
Atlantic Ave (with a long needed downtown station serving both LI and NJ).

Such a bi-level tunnel has the potential to serve many more people and allow smarter spread out growth than just a doubling of capacity into penn station as is now the plan.

Someone March 8, 2013 - 7:46 am

While that is indeed a good idea, you have an imagination for thinking up ideas that in some ways are just not feasible cost-wise, or practical. People in Hoboken can just ride the PATH.

Eric F March 8, 2013 - 10:16 am

Can the tunnel stubs be used for train storage?

Someone March 8, 2013 - 7:23 pm

Not without tracks, they can’t.

Nathanael March 9, 2013 - 1:17 am

If the under-Hudson tunnels are bored, these box tunnels will likely end up being the staging area for much of the NYC-side connecting work. So if tracks are laid in them, they’d probably have to be removed as soon as the under-Hudson tunnels start.

jim March 9, 2013 - 4:46 pm

Does anyone know at what grade the train box is going to be constructed? Hw much it will drop over its 800 ft length? Or at what grade the tunnel connecting the train box to Penn Station will have to be constructed in order for the tracks to meet?

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