The Gateway Program Development Corporation (GPDC) has hired Francis Sacr, formerly of French bank Societe Generale's Americas infrastructure financing division, to serve as interim chief financial officer and to oversee financing of the GPDC's $24 billion Gateway initiative, according to Reuters.
Sacr was an adviser on the $4 billion LaGuardia Airport terminal replacement project, which is currently underway and being delivered as a public-private partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
His appointment coincides with a GPDC-issued request for information to the private sector on potential funding models for Amtrak-related projects along the Northeast Corridor. His hiring suggests that Gateway officials are leaning toward a significant private financing component for the program.
The Gateway Program is a collection of rail projects intended to expand capacity along the Northeast Corridor and see either the improvement or replacement of aging infrastructure along the way. Aside from Amtrak and the Port Authority, partners to the program include the states of New Jersey and New York, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation.
However, in July, the USDOT withdrew from a supervisory position on the GPDC board. The agency said it has dealings with transportation agencies all over the country and did not want to appear partial to the Gateway initiative.
Projects planned for the Gateway Program include the Hudson River tunnel (between New York and New Jersey) and Portal Bridge (NJ) replacements, as well as the conversion of the Farley Post Office Building next to Pennsylvania Station into the Moynihan Train Hall (top image). The new hall will process all Amtrak arrivals and departures into and out of New York City, serve as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Long Island Railroad hub and host Amtrak's city headquarters.
The GPDC has prioritized the tunnel's construction because the corrosive residue left behind from Superstorm Sandy floodwaters continues to damage vital equipment, threatening a shutdown that could affect timetables along the entire East Coast. In July, a draft environmental review by the Federal Transit Administration estimated costs for the new tunnel to be approximately $13 billion, about $5 billion more than previous estimates.
Meanwhile, the new $1.5 billion Portal North Bridge, which will span the Hackensack River, is awaiting a final funding plan. It has already received a $300 million commitment from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Amtrak said the existing bridge has mechanical problems that regularly disrupt service.