While a new rail tunnel from Manhattan to New Jersey is far from a reality, Sen. Charles Schumer and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday that $185 million in federal funding will help build concrete-encased tunnels under the Hudson Yards that could be incorporated into a larger project.
Officials said the Hudson Yards site needs to set aside some underground space for the casing so that an additional "Gateway Project" tunnel connecting Penn Station and New Jersey could even be a possibility.
The $185 million in funds is coming from the federal Sandy aid bill, as the existing Hudson River tunnels flooded for the first time in their 103-year-old history during last year's storm.
Hudson Yards developer Related Companies agreed to this plan, and construction on the 800-feet-long casing will begin in August. The resulting tunnel will be storm-resistant.
"The buildings would have gone in without these boxed tunnels being prepared. We would never have been able to build new tunnels under the river," said Schumer.
"This will build the boxes that will become the jump-start, the beginning, the opportunity to build these tunnels," LaHood said.
The "Gateway Project" tunnel under the Hudson River would need about $13 billion in funding. Officials declined Thursday to even give a timetable for when that tunnel could be built.