Amtrak applies for High-Speed Rail Money

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We're beginning to get word of applications for Florida's High Speed Rail money (the applications are due today.)

This in, from Amtrak..we'll post more as get 'em...and more analysis later.


Portal Bridge, Hudson River Tunnels, NY Penn Station among projects

WASHINGTON – Amtrak is applying for nearly $1.3 billion in recently available high-speed and intercity passenger rail federal funding to move forward with a series of infrastructure improvements -- including the Gateway Project --as critical first steps to bring next-generation high-speed rail to the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

“The Northeast Corridor is a premier region in the country to advance the nation’s high-speed rail program,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.  “The Gateway Project improvements to increase passenger rail capacity and access into the heart of Manhattan are absolutely essential to make next-generation high-speed rail a reality,” he added.

A recent decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation to name the NEC a federally designated high-speed rail corridor allows Amtrak to apply directly for this funding.

Amtrak worked closely with its state partners to coordinate projects election in order to maximize the expected regional improvements.  Each of the coordinated projects submitted by Amtrak and individual states are vital for the reliability and capacity of the current NEC network, and are critical building blocks for expanded and higher speed intercity passenger rail service.

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Specifically, Amtrak is requesting funding for three Gateway projects including for a $720 million project to replace the more than 100-year-old movable Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey with a new, high-level fixed bridge.  The Amtrak request is for $570 million with a contribution from the State of New Jersey of up to $150 million.

Also Gateway-related, Amtrak is asking for $188 million for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for two new tunnels under the Hudson River into Manhattan with related infrastructure improvements, and $50 million for similar work for the development of a new Penn Station South facility to accommodate more tracks and platforms in downtown New York.

Mr. Boardman emphasized that the Gateway Project is key for the future growth and economic development of the entire NEC region.  The project will benefit Amtrak passengers traveling north to New York from Washington,D.C., Maryland and Delaware as well as riders from New England states who are traveling to destinations south of New York   He also said the Gateway Project is the cornerstone from which Amtrak intends to build a new, two-track 220 mph (354 kph) next-generation high-speed rail system.

In addition, Amtrak is asking for $450 million for a project to support capacity increases and improve trip-times between Philadelphia and New York— one of the busiest segments on the NEC.  The project is designed to upgrade electrical power, signal systems and overhead catenary wires in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to improve reliability, increase speeds up to 160 mph (257 kph), and support more frequent high-speed service.  It also will reconfigure track switches at the western entrance to New York Penn Station to mitigate congestion issues.

Separate from the above project list, Amtrak also is applying for $15 million for the necessary environmental and preliminary engineering design to examine replacement options for the more than 100-year-old, low-level movable Pelham Bay Bridge over the Hutchinson River in the Bronx on the Hell Gate Line that connects New York to New England.  The goal is for a new bridge to support expanded service and speeds up to 110 mph (177 kph).

The Northeast region’s population, economic densities and growing travel demand make it an ideal location for federal investment in high-speed and intercity passenger rail service.  With ridership on the rise, improving the NEC will result in environmental, energy and congestion mitigation benefits and help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

About Amtrak®:

Amtrak is America’s Railroad, the nation’s intercity passenger rail provider and its only high-speed rail operator.  A record 28.7 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2010 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces.  Amtrak operates trains in partnership with 15 states and four commuter rail agencies.  Amtrak also is a strong financial performer achieving an 85percent cost-recovery ratio in FY 2010.  Enjoy the journeys at or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.  Join us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at

Gateway Project – Portal Bridge North Replacement

$720 million for construction

($570 million Amtrak + up to $150 million from State of New Jersey)

Completion date:  September 2017

The project would construct a new two-track fixed-span bridge north of the existing Portal Bridge across the Hackensack River. The existing century-old movable bridge incurs high maintenance costs and its antiquated movable span design causes significant delays at one of the most heavily trafficked points on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) due to bridge openings required to accommodate marine traffic. The replacement of the existing bridge will enhance the capacity and improve the operation of Amtrak and New Jersey Transit service, improve service reliability, enhance passenger safety and security, minimize conflicts with maritime traffic impacts on the surrounding environment. It also will pave the way for a new Gateway alignment on a new two-track span immediately south of the existing bridge to support next-generation high-speed rail service into Manhattan.

Gateway Project – New Hudson River Tunnels and Related Infrastructure

$188 million for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis

Completion date:  June 2015

The project would conduct Preliminary Engineering/NEPA clearance for a related set of infrastructure capacity expansions and improvements to the Amtrak-owned NEC mainline between New York Penn Station and Newark Penn Station to effect a four-track mainline through the addition of two running tracks on adjacent alignment including twin trans-Hudson River tunnel facilities to improve operational reliability, support economic growth, and provide a critical first step in expanding high-speed rail service on the NEC by providing greater rail capacity, connectivity and convenience.

Gateway Project – Penn Station Expansion

$50 million for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis

Completion date:  September 2015

The Penn Station expansion project scope includes the development of conceptual design and environmental clearance necessary to advance a new rail terminal facility (Penn Station South), operationally integrated with the existing Penn Station, on a site between 7th and 8th Avenues and 30th and 31st Streets that provides the additional track, platforms and station facilities in operationally constrained Penn Station. This new capacity, together with installed rail assets, can thereby accommodate the projected growth in intercity and commuter rail service forecast in the NEC Master Plan and Amtrak Vision Plan for High-Speed Rail within the greater Penn Station New York/Moynihan Station complex.

NEC Project – Power, Signal, and Catenary and Track Improvements

$450 million for final design and construction

Completion date:  September 2017

This project is intended to compliment the Gateway Program, with an integrated set of infrastructure upgrades designed to make the New Brunswick, N.J. to Morrisville Pa. segment of the Northeast Corridor the fastest and best performance stretch of passenger railroad in the U.S. today    Proposed improvements, including power, catenary, signal and track upgrades, would lift maximum speeds to world class standards, from 135 mph currently, to 160 mph by 2017 and support more frequent high-speed service.  This project also includes upgrades to the western entrance to Penn Station New York to improve reliability and mitigate congestion prior to the construction of new tunnels and expanded station capacity under the Gateway program.

NEC Project—Pelham Bay Bridge Replacement

$15 million for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis

Completion date:  March 2014

The Pelham Bay Bridge crosses the Hutchinson River in the Bronx, north of Manhattan, on the Hell Gate Line linking New York to New England.  It is a low level movable bridge, built in 1907, and currently beyond its useful life.  Amtrak is applying for funding for the necessary environmental and preliminary engineering design to examine bridge replacement options, including a potential high level bridge to achieve speeds of up to 110 mph, up from 45 mph currently.  In addition to bridge replacement and alignment options for expanded service, this project will evaluate potential track and curve modifications on the Hell Gate over a 5-mile stretch immediately south of the bridge, toraise speeds from 60 to 65 mph currently to approximately 85 mph.