The government shutdown hasn’t affected rail travel as of yet, and in fact, an important project to prevent future hurricanes from inflicting the kind of flooding damage that Superstorm Sandy wrought is now under way in NYC. The 800-foot concrete tunnel casing between 10th and 11th Avenues underneath the Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s west side was designed to protect train tunnels from floodwaters and began construction in late September.

Image © David Sugden

The casing will preserve a right-of-way for two new train tunnels into Penn Station that are intended to provide better service for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit riders. The two tunnels are part of Amtrak’s Gateway Project, an initiative to build a high-speed rail corridor between Newark, New Jersey and New York City to relieve bottlenecks along the Northeast Corridor.  The new flood-resistant tunnels underneath the Hudson River would double the capacity of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service, which is its most heavily used route.

The new casing is being made possible because of $185 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Hurricane Sandy Relief funding.

“Today’s groundbreaking is about so much more than making way for the Amtrak Gateway tunnels,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said at a ceremony with local, state and federal officials. “It’s about celebrating a $185 million investment in our future, in keeping our competitive edge in the New Jersey-New York area, in our preparedness against severe weather events like Super Storm Sandy. We can’t be satisfied with a 19th century infrastructure in a 21st century world and expect to stay competitive in a high-tech, fast-paced, global economy. For the growth of the entire region, it’s critical that we invest in new rail tunnels across the Hudson.”

Sandy severely disrupted Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad service when four of six 103-year-old tunnels under the Hudson and East Rivers were flooded for the first time in history with 3.25 million gallons of water. Amtrak and NJ Transit service into Manhattan were halted for five days, impacting nearly 600,00 riders.

Construction of the 800-foot long, 50-foot wide and 35-foot tall concrete casing is expected to be completed in October 2015.

+ Amtrak Press Release

 Lead image via Hana R. Alberts/Curbed NY