Tuesday, June 09, 2009

New Jersey breaks ground on nation’s largest transit project

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Building upon the region’s rich legacy of major public transportation assets, Governor Jon S. Corzine, Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and a group of other federal, state and local officials broke ground on the Mass Transit Tunnel project, the largest transit public works project in America.
“Today’s groundbreaking represents an historic $8.7-billion dollar transit infrastructure project, the largest in the nation,” Governor Corzine said “It will create thousands of jobs for hardworking families across the region, promote better mobility and provide enormous environmental benefits. Thanks to Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, New Jersey’s champions of mass-transit and infrastructure, for securing this funding that is a transportation imperative for the state, the region and the nation.”

The $8.7-billion Mass Transit Tunnel project, being built in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, is expected to generate and sustain 6,000 jobs through the construction phase of two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River, an expanded New York Penn Station and other key elements, reinvigorating the link between New Jersey and New York and benefiting the regional economy with improved mobility. It is expected to create 44,000 permanent jobs.

U.S. Senators Lautenberg, Menendez and Governor Corzine also announced a major funding agreement with the Obama Administration that enables the initial phases of the project to advance with federal funding support. The Early Systems Work Agreement provides $1.35 billion in funding for the early phases of the project, about half of which is from federal sources including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The $1.35-billion agreement includes a down payment of $400 million of funding from the Federal Transit Administration (towards a $3-billion FTA commitment), $130 million in federal stimulus funds and $125 million in Federal Highway congestion mitigation funds.

The Mass Transit Tunnel project will double trans-Hudson River rail capacity by adding two new single-track tunnels – supplementing the existing two tracks that opened for service in 1910 and now are pushed to their functional limits each commuting day – as well as expand New York Penn Station with a new facility specifically designed to meet the high-ridership needs of a modern commuter rail system.

Doubling the number of tracks for trains operating between New Jersey and New York will increase 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.

Fifteen years of study starting with 137 project alternatives, numerous public meetings and input in conformance with federal regulations, produced the finished plan. The project has been designed to allow for expansion in Manhattan to the east in the future as conditions and funding permit.
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