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Project moves to next phase

July 27, 2005

NEWARK, NJ – The project to double rail capacity between New Jersey and New York took an important step forward today, as the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved the locally preferred alignment (LPA) of the Trans-Hudson Express (THE) Tunnel, moving the project into the next phase of federal scoping and advanced conceptual engineering.

The cornerstone of the Access to the Region’s Core program, THE Tunnel project consists of two new single-track rail tunnels to supplement the two Amtrak-owned tunnels that currently carry all Northeast Corridor commuter rail traffic from New Jersey into Midtown Manhattan. The project also includes a new multi-level station under 34th Street in Manhattan, which will connect with the existing New York Penn Station. The original tunnels, built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1907 and 1910, were designed to carry a few long-distance trains per day.

“It is up to this generation to make the investments that keep public transit working,” said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. “This is also an investment in the economic vitality of the state. The tunnel project has my full support and should be a number one priority to all of us,” Codey said.

"The Port Authority believes that the ARC project is a critical transportation investment that is needed to keep the region moving and the economy growing. In partnership with NJ TRANSIT, and in conjunction with our 10-year strategic plan, we will dedicate as many resources and as much effort as necessary to make this infrastructure investment a reality for the region," said Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia.

The Board’s approval of the alignment is the culmination of work that began as the Access to the Region’s Core Major Investment Study (MIS) in 1995. In all, 137 alternatives—involving subway, rail, and ferry—were considered.

The project enjoys broad support from business, community, and transportation leaders as well as elected officials on both sides of the Hudson River (a representative list is attached).

The Board-approved LPA outlines that the two, new single-track tunnels will be constructed under the New Jersey Palisades and the Hudson River, south of the alignment for the existing tunnels, deep underground to avoid disturbing the river bottom. The new track infrastructure will connect with the existing commuter rail system to provide a one-seat ride into Midtown for thousands of NJ TRANSIT customers whose commutes currently require a transfer from the Main, Bergen County, Pascack Valley, Port Jervis and Raritan Valley lines. Under the plan, a new loop track would wrap around the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station at Secaucus Junction and provide a route for trains from Bergen, Passaic, Rockland and Orange counties to access the tunnel.

Based on regional population and job growth, NJ TRANSIT expects the morning peak-period demand into Manhattan to surge to 86,000 passengers by 2015, as compared to 41,000 today.

The project will enhance service reliability by providing operational flexibility and critical redundancy in the event of a service disruption in the existing tunnels or in Penn Station New York. Track connections between existing Penn Station in New York and the new station under 34th Street will enable trains to shift from one facility to another, and greatly enhance passenger connections to subway lines and PATH trains—centralizing travel options and providing new points of entry to the system.

“Efficient, reliable and affordable public transportation to Manhattan is not a luxury; it is essential to the economic vitality of our region,” said DOT Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chairman Jack Lettiere.

“This rail project—the most important of our generation—will retain the jobs we have now and encourage new employers to move here,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George D. Warrington. “It will help maintain our quality of life, and it will reduce congestion on highways and bridges.

During the MIS process over the last decade, a ballpark cost estimate between $4 billion and $5 billion for project was developed. Since that time, the scope of work has been refined, including the implementation of new security measures since 9/11, plans for the new station, and expanded rail car storage capabilities. As a result, in 2005 dollars, the project cost is estimated at about $6 billion. Ultimately, the cost estimate will continue to be refined as the engineering advances and the project details are more sharply focused.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 779,200 daily trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 52 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.