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August 14, 2009

NEWARK, NJ – Governor Jon S. Corzine today welcomed U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s $650 million “down payment” toward a federal funding commitment of $3 billion for the historic Mass Transit Tunnel.


LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff have notified Congress of the agency’s approval of a $1.35 billion Early Systems Work Agreement for the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Mass Transit Tunnel, money that will support the transit tunnel’s initial phases of construction.


Some $650 million of the $1.35 billion in the agreement is from federal sources, including $130 million in stimulus funds under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.  LaHood and Rogoff emphasized that the FTA is committed to providing a total of $3 billion in transit “New Starts” funding for the Mass Transit Tunnel over the project’s construction.


“This significant federal support has already helped us move forward into the construction phase of this historic infrastructure project, providing a boost to our state’s economy and saving jobs and creating jobs for our citizens,” Governor Corzine said.  “I look forward to working with the administration and with Secretary LaHood and Administrator Rogoff to build upon this initial agreement as work on the Mass Transit Tunnel continues to advance.”


The $8.7 billion Mass Transit Tunnel project, being built by NJ TRANSIT in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, is expected to create and sustain 6,000 jobs throughout the construction of two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River, an expanded New York Penn Station and other key improvements. The project’s long-term mobility benefits for the region also are expected to create 44,000 permanent jobs.


“Mass transit in our state is getting a big boost today,” stated Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg.  “The federal government has stamped its ticket to ride with New Jersey for a cleaner, safer and more efficient future.  With the Early Systems Work Agreement, President Obama has agreed to be our partner and to provide $3 billion over the life of the project.  People are fed up with traffic and congestion and this new tunnel will bring relief.”


“This official federal commitment to fully funding its share of the Mass Transit Tunnel is yet another indication that this project is right on track,” said Senator Robert Menendez. “By creating thousands of new jobs, it will be a part of our economic recovery.  By supporting thousands more permanent jobs, saving commuters time and money and cleaning the air we breathe, it will be part of the foundation for our economic future.”


Transportation Commissioner Stephen Dilts said, “The new tunnel’s mobility improvements will not only create jobs and make life easier for New Jersey residents, the tunnel will also provide much-needed relief for our environment, taking 22,000 cars a day off area highways and dramatically reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants.”


“The Mass Transit Tunnel offers state-wide benefits,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard R. Sarles. “By breaking the trans-Hudson rail bottleneck, NJ TRANSIT will be able to offer more trains, more express trains and improved service throughout the state. That means a better quality of life for everyone.”

"The federal government's substantial financial commitment to the ARC Mass Transit Tunnel truly shows the project is one of the nation's most important mass transit initiatives,'' said Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia.  "The ongoing bi-state cooperation, coupled with the Obama administration's support, will mean thousands of construction jobs in the short-term and vastly improved travel for commuters between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan in the long-term."

"The Mass Transit Tunnel project continues to gain momentum, which is a tribute to the strong cooperation between officials in New York, New Jersey and Washington,'' said Christopher O. Ward, the Port Authority's executive director.  "I would like to thank USDOT Secretary LaHood, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and all of our partners in Washington for making this happen."


Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Susan Bass Levin said, “We appreciate the federal government’s continued commitment to help finance this project, which will provide benefits on both a regional and national basis for decades to come. It is yet another milestone in a series of achievements in recent months that have helped make the tunnel project a reality.


The Mass Transit Tunnel is the largest transit public works project in the nation. The transit tunnel will relieve the commuter rail bottleneck under the Hudson River, where the existing, 100-year-old rail tunnels are pushed beyond their functional capacity each day during morning and evening rush hours. The Mass Transit Tunnel will more than double the number of trains that can travel between New Jersey and New York during peak hours, to 48 from 23, while also creating transfer-free, one-seat rides for travelers on 11 of NJ TRANSIT’s 12 rail lines.


NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 895,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 165 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.