The existing Tunnel under the Hudson River that connects New York with New Jersey had sustained extensive damages when Hurricane Sandy had struck in 2012 and it is in need of extensive repairs. Simultaneously, another tunnel is necessary to improve the infrastructure but, the estimates have nearly doubled from an earlier projection of $7.7 billion to nearly $13 billion putting the fate of the tunnel in uncertainty.

Those in the know say that, if the go-ahead for construction of a new tunnel is given by fall 2019, the tunnel could open in spring 2026.

The breakdown of estimates is $11.1 billion towards the new tunnel and another $1.8 billion towards repairs to the existing one but, the hesitation on the part of the Trump administration has put a question mark on the project.

The background history

According to New York Times, the age of the existing tunnel is nearly 100 years and it is used by Amtrak as well as the New Jersey Transit trains to travel from one side of the Hudson River to the other. It suffered major damages in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy and has become unreliable. It is a part of the infrastructure and unless action is taken on immediate priority, it would have an adverse effect on commuting in the region.

The Hudson tunnel plan is part of upgrades under the Gateway program and is associated with infrastructure development.

The estimates could go haywire in the case of delays and in the opinion of knowledgeable persons, decisions must be taken in time to avoid an escalation in costs.

The previous administration of Barack Obama had supported the building of a new tunnel and Amtrak was willing to bear half of the cost while the then governors of New York and New Jersey had agreed to chip in with the balance.

However, the present administration has not given any commitment to provide federal financing for the tunnel which puts the fate of the project in doubt.

The present status

Officials of the railroad administration have evaluated the plan’s environmental and economic impacts and John D. Porcari, the interim executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corporation, has indicated at a news conference at Pennsylvania Station that works on the tunnel under the Hudson River are moving rapidly toward construction.

However, there are certain environmental concerns because the construction could affect marshes in the Meadowlands in New Jersey. There could also be possibilities of disturbing the population of bird and fish in the area because they could lose their natural habitats and this issue needs to be resolved in advance. Therefore, officials plan to involve the locals in the decision making. They want to interact with the locals and obtain feedback so that there is uniformity of thought and action since the infrastructure is for the benefit of society.