Confirming International Research: Hudson Tunnel Costs Explode

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is looking like a prophet now. In late October, the Governor cancelled a new tunnel across the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York City, because of the potential for cost overruns, which would be the responsibility of New Jersey taxpayers. By that point, the cost of the tunnel had escalated at least $1 billion to $9.7 billion. The tunnel was to have doubled New Jersey Transit and Amtrak capacity into Penn Station from New Jersey.

Now Amtrak proposes to build the tunnel itself, a scaled down version of the previous tunnel. The new tunnel would increase capacity for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains by 65 percent.

However, the cost is not scaled down. For one-third less the capacity, initial estimates place the cost of the new tunnel at 40 percent more ($13.5 billion) than the already escalated cost of the cancelled tunnel.

Of course, it is likely that if planning and construction proceed, the cost of the tunnel could increase substantially beyond initial estimate. This virtual inevitability is indicated in international research by Oxford University professor Bengt Flyvbjerg and others.