Latest Rail News
10 December 2009

NJ Transit Updates


Final engineering and design work will begin on a pair of new bridges over the Hackensack River that will increase capacity, flexibility and reliability for rail customers traveling into and out of New York.

Under a contract amendment approved today by the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors, the corporation is advancing toward construction of the Portal Bridge Capacity Enhancement project, a crucial link between Kearny and Secaucus on the Northeast Corridor that will replace the 99-year-old Portal Bridge.  The board also authorized a contract for construction management services.

"This project will provide an essential upgrade to our core capacity and positions NJ TRANSIT to efficiently accommodate growing ridership for decades to come," said NJ TRANSIT Chairman and Transportation Commissioner Stephen Dilts.

The new bridges will offer five tracks - three more than the current bridge - providing the capacity to take full advantage of the additional capacity into and out of New York that the Mass Transit Tunnel project will create.  The complementary bridge and tunnel projects will eliminate two bottlenecks for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customers.

In addition, the new fixed bridges will provide greater reliability by eliminating the need for a movable span.  The new bridges will be built high enough above the river - 50 feet above mean high water - to allow ships to pass underneath with none of the bridge opening and closing operations that create delays for rail customers. 

"The current bridge is functionally obsolete and expensive to maintain," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles.  "This project will eliminate a chokepoint for hundreds of trains and thousands of customers each day."

About 350 NJ TRANSIT trains operate across Portal Bridge each day, carrying about 150,000 customers.  Another 30,000 Amtrak customers cross the bridge each day.  Amtrak owns the bridge and is working jointly with NJ TRANSIT on the replacement project.

The Board authorized a $69.7 million amendment to an existing contract with Portal Partners Inc. of Audubon, Pa. for final engineering and design and an $18 million contract to AECOM-STV Joint Venture for construction management consultant services.

A contract with Portal Partners Inc. for final engineering for early action components was approved by the Board in July, 2009. 

Construction of early action items, such as utility relocation, is expected to start by mid 2010, with some heavy project construction including access roads, platforms and piers to start in the fall. 

The entire project, estimated to cost about $1.7 billion, is expected to be completed in 2017.  A combination of state and federal sources is expected to provide funding.


The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today approved the first major tunneling contract for the $8.7 billion Mass Transit Tunnel, the nation's largest public transit project that will double commuter rail capacity between New Jersey and New York.

The board authorized the award of a $583 million contract to a joint venture of Barnard of New Jersey and Judlau Contracting Inc. of College Point, N.Y., the lowest of three bidders.  The contract covers construction of one of the project's three tunnel segments, a mile-long segment in Manhattan.

"By improving this critical transportation corridor, we are ensuring that our tunnels remain a source of economic strength and mobility for New Jersey and the region," said Governor Jon S. Corzine.  "This contract will provide an immediate boost to our economy with the Manhattan and Palisades tunnel segments expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs and the Mass Transit Tunnel project as a whole creating many more jobs over the next several years."

NJ TRANSIT expects to receive bids for the Palisades tunnel segment within weeks, followed by the third and final Hudson River segment. 

The Manhattan tunnel segment is part of an overall project to build two new single-track commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River, doubling capacity of the two-track tunnel that was built 100 years ago, which today operates at its functional capacity.  The other main feature of the project is construction of an expanded New York Penn Station specially designed to handle the customer surges associated with a commuter railroad.

"This project positions NJ TRANSIT to respond effectively to the demands of New Jersey residents for 21st-century transportation options that decrease our reliance on fossil fuel while improving the environment," said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chairman Stephen Dilts.  

The project is being built by NJ TRANSIT in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

"This is a major project that helps ensure we have the capacity to meet the growing demand for public transportation," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles.  "It benefits residents throughout New Jersey by creating operational flexibility system-wide, as well as opportunities for convenient, one-seat rides to and from New York for customers on ten of our 12 commuter rail lines."

The additional commuter rail capacity provided by the new tunnel will remove an estimated 22,000 vehicles from regional roadways each day.

The project is expected to generate and sustain 6,000 jobs annually in peak construction years and create 44,000 permanent jobs after completion.

Contract Details

The Manhattan tunnels segment will be constructed under a design-build contract that includes final design and construction of rail tunnels that will extend a distance of approximately one mile from a shaft at Twelfth Avenue and 28th Street in Manhattan.

Construction will begin early next year, and is expected to continue through late 2013. 

The contractor will construct a 160-foot diameter access shaft on the western edge of Manhattan, and then bore 16,500 feet of tunnels averaging more than 120 feet beneath the surface to a new expansion of Penn Station under 34th Street between Eighth and Sixth avenues.

The twin tunnels will be located an average of 120 feet below street level and will proceed diagonally northeast then eastward and split into four tunnels to maximize train movements in and out of the expanded New York Penn Station as the tunnels approach 34th Street.

The contractor will perform the excavation using two tunnel boring machines (TBM's), massive equipment units that cut through rock and other material to form tunnels that are each about 27 feet in diameter. The total length of the TBM-bored tunnels included in this contract segment is 16,500 feet.

The Mass Transit Tunnel will double service capacity to 48 trains per hour during peak periods from the current 23 trains.  Twice as many passengers will be able to be accommodated, from 46,000 each morning peak period now to 90,000 in the future.  The project also will also create transfer-free, one-seat rides for travelers on 10 of NJ TRANSIT's 12 rail lines.

The Port Authority is contributing $3 billion toward the Mass Transit Tunnel project cost, while the federal government will contribute $3 billion under its "New Starts" transit funding program.  Another $2.7 billion will come from a combination of other federal funds, including stimulus and clean air funding, as well as the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's congestion mitigation contribution.


The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today advanced several key South Jersey transportation initiatives, including a study to evaluate improvements to the Atlantic City Rail Line and an agreement with the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) that will provide funding for a study of the proposed extension of light rail to Glassboro. 

In addition, NJ TRANSIT is taking the lead on a Gloucester-Camden-area Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) study to examine the congested corridor southeast of Camden along routes 55, 42 and 676.  The agency is also partnering with the DRPA for the design and construction of a new NJ TRANSIT bus loading area across from the Walter Rand Transportation Center.

"Today's Board actions advance transit initiatives involving all three NJ TRANSIT travel modes in southern New Jersey," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles.  "We are pleased to work with the Delaware River Port Authority to improve access to public transportation in this region."  

Atlantic City Rail Line Operations Analysis Study

The Board authorized a $735,000 contract with LTK Engineering Services of New York, NY, for a study to identify Atlantic City Rail Line infrastructure improvements to accommodate potential service expansions in the future. 

Today, the Atlantic City Rail Line is primarily a single-track railroad with a limited number of passing tracks.  The study will look at the impact to the line and infrastructure needs resulting from increased service frequency, faster trip times and additional stations.

Among the items to be evaluated are the projected ridership impact of the opening of the Pennsauken Transit Center and proposals for new stations in Woodcrest and at the Atlantic City Airport. 

Camden-Glassboro Light Rail Agreement

Another item advanced by the Board today will provide for the funding of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed light rail system between Camden and Glassboro.  The Board authorized an agreement with the DRPA, by which NJ TRANSIT will fund up to $8,954,000 for the preparation of the EIS.

In May 2009, the DRPA recommended that diesel light rail service be advanced from Camden to Glassboro within the existing Conrail right-of-way.  The light rail system would serve 13 new stations between the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden and downtown Glassboro.

Gloucester-Camden Bus Rapid Transit  

Today the Board also authorized a $750,000 contract with AECOM USA, Inc. of Newark, NJ, for a study to evaluate bus service improvements along the congested Route 55/42/676 highway corridor that connects suburban Gloucester and Camden counties with the City of Camden and Philadelphia.

The study will identify and evaluate a range of capital and operating bus improvement options, including BRT, to improve the quality and reliability of bus service in an area that is subject to significant traffic congestion and delays during peak periods.  BRT relies on a combination of strategies to improve service, including the use of dedicated bus lanes and traffic signal prioritization technology.

This study and the Atlantic City Rail Line Operations Analysis study are part of a broader evaluation of transportation improvements advanced by the DRPA in 2008. 

Walter Rand Transportation Center Bus Loading Area

Under a second agreement with the DRPA authorized by the Board, the DRPA will fund $3 million for the design and construction of a loading area for NJ TRANSIT buses at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden.

As part of the project, NJ TRANSIT will design and construct a new bus loading area with a canopy, lighting, closed-circuit cameras, public address system and signage.  The project also includes repaving and streetscape improvements on Broadway and the adjacent plaza areas.

The project will enhance pedestrian convenience and safety, improve bus circulation and allow for more efficient boarding and alighting of buses.  It will also improve connectivity for customers transferring between buses, the River Line and the PATCO High-Speed Line operated by the DRPA.

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Acting swiftly to address the issues raised in David D'Allesandro's review of the MBTA, the Authority executed a contract with one of the transit industry's most respected safety and security consulting firms. Transportation Resource Associates (TRA) will perform an independent assessment of the MBTA's evaluation and prioritization of capital projects, with a focus on safety issues. Philadelphia-based TRA has been providing expertise and solutions to transit agencies throughout North America for nearly 20 years.

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Capital Metro, embroiled in a contract and insurance dispute with rail contractor Veolia Transportation, on Dec. 9 cancelled its five-year contract with the company to operate freight and passenger rail, the Austin, Texas, American-Statesman reports.

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The Finger Lakes Railway may be able to help settle the issue of trucks hauling trash from the New York metropolitan area through the Finger Lakes to the private Seneca Meadows landfill in the town of Seneca Falls, N.Y., The Syracuse Post-Standard reports. Railway President Mike Smith said his Geneva-based company has already been talking with the landfill and Seneca County officials about building a rail line to the landfill to deliver trash to Seneca Meadows. "It's a good business opportunity," Smith said.

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Denver's Regional Transportation District Board of Directors has named three finalists in its search for the district's new General Manager and CEO. The three finalists are Sean Donohue, Douglas Kelsey and Phillip Washington.

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CN has reached a voluntary mitigation agreement with the Village of Plainfield, Ill., located 35 miles southwest of Chicago, addressing the municipality's environmental issues with CN's acquisition of the principal lines of the former Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company. With this agreement, CN has VMAs with 21 municipalities of the 33 communities situated on the EJ&E in Illinois and Indiana.

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Three Santa Clara, Calif., Valley Transportation Authority light rail stations-Hamilton, Campbell and Winchester-will be closed the weekend of Dec. 12-13 due to construction activities.  During the weekend track work, VTA will provide free substitute bus service to or from the three closed stations and the Bascom Station, where light rail service will be available. 

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on Congress to pass the Obama Administration's Public Transportation Safety Program Act of 2009, a new transit safety bill to ensure a high and standard level of safety across all rail transit systems. The measure would effectively eliminate the statut ...
Cleveland RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese will be on Capitol Hill Dec. 10 to report to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the status of projects funded by from the American Resource and Recovery Act of 2009, and to urge additional funding for public transportation authorit ...
For most of its existence, the Amtrak service through the Missouri River Valley has operated on schedule no better than 79 percent of the time, and as low as 55 percent, local media report. Over the past month, Amtrak has been on time on 94 out of a hundred runs, Web site ...
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