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FRA Issues Draft EIS for Hudson River Tunnel Project; Project Leaders Hold Press Conference

On July 6, FRA published the draft Environmental Impact Statement review (EIS) for the Hudson River project to construct an additional tunnel to alleviate congestion in the Northeast Corridor and replace the existing 106-year-old tunnel damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

FRA released the document on the same day the Gateway Program Development Corp. (GPDC), which is overseeing the project, held a press conference to discuss the EIS and the project.

The EIS identified the tunnel project’s “preferred alternative,” which includes constructing a new tunnel, refurbishing the existing ones and strengthening the rail crossing between New Jersey and New York. Current estimates for the tunnel project range from $11.7 billion to $12.98 billion.

“It will be the responsibility of the project sponsors to identify their funding sources and plan,” stated the FRA news release. “The department notes that all projects that apply for federal funding must meet the appropriate criteria and that all projects will be individually evaluated on their merits, without prejudice against or partiality in favor of particular projects.”

John Porcari, GPDC interim executive director, called the draft EIS a “major milestone” at the press conference. He said the original tunnel estimate of $8 billion to $10 billion was “a very conceptual number” based on the project that was about 1 percent designed. The project now stands at about 10 percent designed, he noted, adding that further delays could mean further cost increases.

FRA noted that the review was completed in 14 months and estimated that the final statement would be released in March 2018, about 22 months after initiation, noting that this shortened timeframe demonstrated “the department’s commitment to streamline the project review process.”

In related news, DOT withdrew its membership on the GPDC Board of Directors on June 30, noting that the withdrawal is “consistent with the department’s provision of effective and objective oversight in instances where we provide financial assistance.”

For details about the draft EIS and the project, click here and here.
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