MANHATTAN — Construction began Monday on a new tunnel beneath Hudson Yards, which could one day allow additional trains to run between New Jersey and Penn Station.
The new concrete box under the multi-billion-dollar West Side development will not immediately connect to a new tunnel under the Hudson River, but it will keep open the possibility that additional New York-to-New Jersey tunnels could be built in the future.
“What we’re talking about is a $185 million box, in which hopefully eventually we’ll put the rail tunnel,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler told DNAinfo New York.
“If you haven’t reserved the right-of-way, the tunnel, it becomes impossible to build it afterwards. In other words, you can build a tunnel underneath the Hudson, but you can’t get to Penn Station without going under the Hudson Yards."
The 800-foot tunnel beneath Hudson Yards is part of Amtrak's Gateway Program, which proposes two new Hudson River tunnels as well as infrastructure improvements for the current tunnels.
The need to build the concrete box at Hudson Yards became more urgent this year, when Amtrak engineers determined any new tunnels to Penn Station would have to run through the development. The project's developers, Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, agreed to modify their construction plans to accommodate the concrete box.
The $185 million cost to build the Hudson Yards' tunnel came from the federal Department of Transportation’s Super Storm Sandy Relief fund. The project will include protections against severe weather, including flood gates and pumps.
There are currently two tunnels between New Jersey and Penn Station, used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, and they are 103 years old, officials said. Both flooded during Hurricane Sandy.
The Hudson Yards tunnel will be completed in October 2015 between 10th and 11th avenues. An addition to the tunnel may eventually be built between 11th and 12th avenues if the development continues west.
“We’re celebrating today the groundbreaking of building this box," Nadler said. "We’ll put the specifics of the tunnel in later, when we get the money to do that.”