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Tunnel Project Linking Manhattan to N.J. Put on Fast Track, Pols Say

By Maya Rajamani | October 17, 2016 4:55pm
 The two new rail tunnels will run from New Jersey to Penn Station.
The two new rail tunnels will run from New Jersey to Penn Station.
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HELL’S KITCHEN — The multibillion-dollar Gateway Project which will build new underwater tunnels connecting Manhattan and New Jersey has been fast-tracked for environmental review and federal permitting, officials and politicians said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has added the $24 billion project — which includes plans to build two new rail tunnels between Penn Station and New Jersey as well as constructing additional platforms at Penn Station — to a list that will make it a “top priority” for review agencies, officials and politicians including Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

The promised “streamlined” review means the new tunnels could open “as early as 2024,” with construction beginning in 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“There is simply no time to waste when it comes to the countless jobs that depend on a safe and functioning gateway tunnel,” Schumer said in a statement.

“Now, we must continue moving full-speed ahead, ensuring the federal grant dollars are ready to use, and lengthy reviews sped up."

Plans for the tunnels were revealed in 2011 after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie withdrew funding for a transportation project known as Access to the Region’s Core (ARC), citing financial concerns.

This past May, Port Authority executive director Pat Foye and the coalition Common Good warned that drawing out the environmental review and permitting processes for the Gateway Project could increase its costs by billions of dollars.

Amtrak and several other entities involved with the plan recently advanced construction of underground casing to house rail infrastructure beneath part of the Hudson Yards with $235 million in Hurricane Sandy resiliency funds, Schumer said.

While Amtrak previously estimated the review process would take between two and four years, the accelerated process will likely only take two years, the Wall Street Journal reported.