www.PDHonline.com - Your Gateway to Lifelong Learning   |   Email: PDHonline@Gmail.com   
PDH Online Course Description PDH Units/
Learning Units (Hours)

Buy Now

View Course

View or Take Quiz


TRANS-HUDSON: Amtrak’s Gateway Program

Jeffrey Syken

When the Pennsylvania Railroad (a/k/a “Pennsy”) leased the United Railroads of New Jersey, with terminate in Jersey City - on the Western shore of the Hudson River, Alexander Johnston Cassatt, the President of the PaRR looked across the mighty divide that was the Hudson with longing. Both the economic and engineering problems seemed insurmountable, but gaining access to the metropolis - in order to compete with its rival; Commodore Vanderbilt’s New York Central Railroad, had become an absolute necessity. Thus was a plan devised to use the latest tunneling technology to excavate two tubes; one inbound and one outbound, under the Hudson to access a grand station to be built on Manhattan’s West-Side. With the Pennsy’s acquisition of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) in 1900, it was essential to connect the PaRR network to the LIRR. To do this, four tunnels would be excavated under the East River and a magnificent arch-bridge would be built over the treacherous Hell Gate Strait, to connect the new tracks to points North of the City. The scheme was collectively known as the "New York Connecting Railroad" (NYCRR). None of it would have been possible without electric traction which was a new technology, at the time.

Fast forward to the modern era when the twin tubes under the Hudson had become a choke-point along the critical North East Corridor (NEC). The Hudson tubes were now being used by two railroads: Amtrak and New Jersey Transit (NJT), at maximum capacity. It was clear to many – including New Jersey’s Governors – that additional tunnels needed to be constructed in order to relieve the stress on the existing tunnels and to increase New Jersey’s transit capacity. After all, the greatest growth in commuter traffic was coming from West-of-the-Hudson and if NJ was to remain economically competitive, additional capacity was not an option; it was a must. So it was that the ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) Project was born in the 1990s. Dubbed “The tunnel to Macy’s basement” by its detractors (since it would not connect to Penn Station NY directly but, rather, terminate in a deep station under Macy’s department store). Despite its flaws, to the dismay of tunnel proponents it was terminated by Gov. Chris Christie of NJ in October 2010 over cost overrun concerns. However, the need remained and this fact was brought to the forefront in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, in October 2012, when both Hudson tubes flooded - for the first time, since they were completed in 1910 and severely damaged.

With this new incentive, Amtrak proposed their “Gateway Program” as an alternate to ARC, which will see built two new Hudson tubes and an expansion of Penn Station. East of Secaucus Junction, nine-miles of new track will be built and the movable Portal Swing Bridge (a notorious bottleneck on the NEC in NJ) will be replaced with the Portal North Bridge – a high-level fixed-in-place bridge that will allow ship traffic on the Hackensack River to pass below unimpeded. Other elements of the Program include a replacement of the Sawtooth Bridge, an 800-foot-long “Box Tunnel” in the LIRR’s Hudson Yards (to maintain Amtrak’s right-of-way) and additional track, maintenance, signal and communications equipment/improvements. Tangential to the Gateway Program is an initiative to connect the No.7 subway line, which now terminates at Hudson Yards, to Secaucus Junction. Key to it all are Amtrak’s plans for Penn Station, which includes expansion across Eighth Avenue to the Farley Post Office and Penn Station South, which will require the acquisition and razing of an entire city block. Penn Station Access (PSA) will provide communities in the Northeast Bronx with Metro-North service for the first time. Alexander Cassatt would be pleased.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

View Course Content

NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.