Exchange Place Station, courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Port Authority invests $410 million to rehab rail, wharfs in New York and New Jersey

November 27, 2023

Rehabilitation work will begin in 2024 to improve PATH rail cars and tracks as well as restore aging wharf structures at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Two contracts greenlighting the work and totaling $410 million received approval Nov. 21 from the board for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Port Authority manages the regional transportation between New York and New Jersey, including rail, airports, bridges and tunnels, bus terminals and ports.

The board’s approval allows Port Authority staff to start issuing multiple contracts for the two programs, which will begin in 2024.

Improving rail reliability

The larger of the two packages approved will total $230 million to rehabilitate tunnels on the New Jersey side of the PATH rail system, which links the state to New York.

About $62 million will restore the trucks – which includes the chassis or base frame, axles and wheels –  of about 138 rail cars to improve performance. The rail cars are over half their service life and will continue to deteriorate if the Port Authority doesn’t invest in the rehabilitation in preparation for PATH’s next overhaul, Bennett said.

“Under this program, we would also retain consultants to identify new strategies to improve fleet logistics and management and assist with defining the scope for future overhaul of the railcar fleet,” she said at a Nov. 21 committee meeting.

The remaining $168 million will go toward rehabilitating the track west of the Hudson River to improve fleet performance and reliability, Bennett said. Work will be focused near the Journal Square, Hoboken and Exchange Place stations, which are mostly located in tunnels that are over 100 years old. The last time those stations were updated was over 20 years ago.

Construction is expected to start in 2024 and wrap up by the end of 2028, Bennett said. The goal is to improve service reliability and reduce delays caused by breakages and water infiltrating the tunnels.

The work on PATH is in addition to the improvement plan the authority launched in 2019 and represents a $1 billing investment. That plan includes purchasing 72 new rail cars by 2024 to increase capacity.

“2024 is going to be an exciting year for PATH that’s going to get a facelift: 72 new cars. These improvements once they’re finished are going to make a remarkable improvement,” board Chairman Kevin O’Toole said.

Restoring wharf safety

The smaller of the two packages will be for $180 million to restore 29 high-priority wharfs at the Port of New York and New Jersey. These wharfs, which include the underwater pile structures and the area where cargo ships tie up to unload containers and passengers, have suffered damage from wood-eating invertebrates and are structurally deficient.

“This program will ensure the wharfs remain functional and in a state of good repair until capital rehabilitation obligations can be shifted to port tenants or otherwise funding the capital program,” Port Director Beth Rooney said at a Nov. 21 committee meeting.

She estimates the work will lengthen the life of the timber piles by 15 years. Most of the structures are over 60 years old, she said.

“Ultimately these wharfs must all be reconstructed and replaced using current design standards and material specifications, specifically steel and concrete, in place of timber,” Rooney said. “The program we are seeking authorization for today does not fund reconstruction.”

Any reconstruction of the piles would have to be completed by tenants through their lease terms or the Port Authority’s future capital programs, she said.

The next steps in the request for qualifications process include developing two lists of prequalified contractors of minority firms and traditional firms using minority participation goals, Rooney said. The Port Authority anticipates completing the master agreements for the construction by the end of March and bidding out the first work by the end of June. Construction is expected to last about six years.

“Most of the work that would be performed under this program will be done in the water under the wharf deck where it is not seen,” Rooney said.

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. can provide information on contract opportunities, plus existing and future government funding. For more information, contact

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