Comments of the Real Estate Board of New York Before the Federal Railroad Administration and New Jersey Transit on The Hudson Tunnel Project

The Real Estate Board of New York, Inc. (REBNY) is a broadly based trade association of over 17,000 owners, developers, brokers, managers and real estate professionals active throughout New York City. We offer our comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and NJ Transit on the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Hudson Tunnel Project.

One of the most heavily used passenger rail line in the US is the Northeast Corridor that runs from Washington, D.C. to Boston. A critical element of this service is the tunnel under the Hudson River that connects New York and Penn Station to this line. The tunnel and related infrastructure of the corridor, which supports over 200,000 daily trips, is over 100 years old and has suffered severe damage from Superstorm Sandy. The North River Tunnel, specifically, has retained chlorides from seawater flooding which is damaging the tunnel’s walls, mechanical, and electrical systems. Without any intervention, emergency repairs may become more frequent and disruptive to train schedules and commuters. Considering how invaluable a reliable transportation system is to the many businesses and cities that are connected by the Northeast Corridor, it is imperative that restoration work begin immediately.

The current DEIS considers the impact that the tunnel closure would have on the Northeast Corridor, residents, businesses, and commuters and proposes an alternative that will have the smallest impact on the surrounding areas and train schedules. The FRA and NJ Transit proposal to build a secondary tunnel allows the current levels of train service to continue without disruption, while providing an additional tunnel for redundancy or future use. New York, New Jersey, and East Coast transportation systems are dependent on this necessary measure that will not interfere with the numerous transportation systems and schedules.

While the DEIS studies the socioeconomic impacts that the Preferred Alternative may have on New York and New Jersey, it is lacking a thorough analysis of the project’s socioeconomic impacts of cities and towns that are along the Northeast Corridor and the nation. A worst-case scenario analysis studying the economic effects of No Action on New York City, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Boston, and the nation should be completed to underscore the importance and urgency of this project.

The Hudson Tunnel Project is an imperative infrastructure rehabilitation project, is a crucial part of the Gateway Program, and needs to proceed promptly. REBNY supports FRA and NJ Transit’s Preferred Alternative and recommends a more thorough analysis of economic importance of the Tunnel on a nationwide scale.