Newark Airport train project cost expected to exceed $2b estimate

posted on 7th September 2023 by William Hallowell
Plane on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport - @dima/Adobe Stock

The project to replace Newark Liberty International Airport’s train system in the US is likely to exceed the original $2b costing estimate, reports Bloomberg. 

The AirTrain EWR project, which is designed to replace the existing system that shuttles about 30,000 passengers every day at the airport, is facing “significant increases over the original $2.05b estimate,” according to preliminary bond documents provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The bi-state agency that runs much of New York City’s air and seaports has offset the cost increases “through value engineering efforts, by reducing project scope or otherwise deferring or reducing spending on other capital projects,” the documents say, without specifying by how much the project will be over budget.

Thomas Pietrykoski, spokesperson for the authority, said: “The Port Authority is currently in the procurement process for a system designer for the replacement air train system at Newark Liberty Airport, and will follow with the procurement of the civil engineering firm to complete the project. The outcomes of those procurements will inform the final cost estimate.”

He added that the authority takes steps to balance capital spending with its available capital resources on a regular basis.

The 2.5-mile monorail at Newark Airport opened in 1996 and has been plagued by breakdowns.

In March, the agency shortlisted three firms — Alstom SA, Doppelmayr Group and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — to compete to design the new AirTrain, with selection targeted for later this year. After one of those is selected, the Port Authority will procure a civil engineering firm to build the new people-mover.

The replacement project is expected to be completed by 2029 at the earliest, according to a presentation to potential contractors in June.

The AirTrain operates between terminals and connects the airport with rental car facilities, hotel shuttles and car parks as well as rail lines operated by New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.

The Port Authority, like other state and city agencies tasked with developing public infrastructure, is facing mounting costs as labour and construction materials become increasingly more expensive.

An index measuring the producer prices of construction materials has increased by more than 30 per cent since early 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The agency said: “Currently, the Port Authority is experiencing significant increases in its projected costs for construction programmes, especially for large projects due to, among other things, an economy-wide increase in inflation, extraordinary increases in the cost of certain construction materials and relative aversion to excessive economic risk on the part of some large contractors.”

Image credit: @dima/Adobe Stock