NEWARK, N.J. – The Trans-Hudson Express (THE) Tunnel reached another important milestone Tuesday (Aug. 10).
N.J. Transit Board of Directors approved a contract to begin engineering a project that will more than double commuter rail capacity between New Jersey and New York. The action comes less than two weeks after the Federal Transit Administration notified Congress that it would formally approve preliminary engineering of THE Tunnel project, following a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and funding review by the FTA, officials said.
Last week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey committed up to $2 billion to fund construction of the project.
“Forward motion of THE Tunnel project is a move toward improving our region’s mobility and economic growth,” said Transportation Commissioner and Board Chairman Kris Kolluri. “The Board’s action (Aug. 1) takes a step towards meeting the Governor’s and N.J. Transit’s commitment to having shovels in the ground by 2009,” he said.
Following a far-reaching advertising effort, the $82.5 million contract was awarded to THE Partnership—a joint venture consisting of Parsons Brinckerhoff, STV and DMJM Harris/AECOM, located in Newark.
Work will include determining tunneling techniques, construction staging, property acquisition needs, utility relocation requirements and other logistical considerations.
THE Partnership firms have designed 94 percent of all new rail stations in the United States during the last 20 years, most of the new and on-going stations in New York City including the WTC PATH station and JFK Airport Airtrain, the East Side Access project, the Number 7 Line, and 2nd Avenue Subway. THE Partnership firms also designed the recently opened Newark Light Rail Broad Street connector and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Weehawken Tunnel and Station.
In addition, the consortium has extensive tunneling experience, exceeding 1200 miles both nationally and internationally, including a number of transit and railroad projects such as: the L.A. Metro system; Bangkok MRTA Thailand Tunnel; Copenhagen Metro Tunnel; Greater Cairo Metro under the Nile; Tren Urbana in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Clair Canada River Tunnel; and the Sidney Railway.
“The award of this contract lets us move beyond planning and now we will roll up our sleeves and begin engineering THE Tunnel,” said N.J. Transit Executive Director George D. Warrington. “Advancing this project to engineering brings us a step closer to our customers benefiting from a faster, more direct and more convenient commute.”
Preliminary engineering work will begin later this month and will take approximately 18 months to complete. During this time, N.J. Transit will finalize the track alignment of project elements including tunnel construction; advance tunnel design, construction techniques and contracting methods; coordinate construction packages with Amtrak and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA); determine the electrical power, railroad signaling, communications and safety system needs; develop the station architecture, safety requirements and construction methods; develop new operating plans for additional services created by THE Tunnel; and refine project estimates.
The next milestone for THE Tunnel project will be the release of the draft environmental impact statement later this year, followed by public hearings on the project.
N.J. Transit is also in the process of procuring a Construction Management and Project Controls consultant team by the end of 2006.
When completed, THE Tunnel will open new opportunities for direct and expanded rail service from the existing commuter rail system to midtown Manhattan and build upon recent transit investments in New Jersey. Tunnel construction is expected to begin in 2009, with completion in 2016.
About the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel
THE Tunnel is the centerpiece of the Access to the Region’s Core program, which includes a state-of-the-art two-track tunnel under the Hudson River (THE Tunnel), and a new rail terminal under 34th Street adjacent to the current Penn Station. The program also includes new track capacity on the Northeast Corridor and a connection to rail lines serving residents of Bergen, Passaic, Rockland and Orange counties, giving customers in those counties a one-seat ride to Manhattan. Raritan Valley Line customers will also benefit from a one-seat ride.
By increasing mobility on the transportation system, including service between New Jersey and New York, THE Tunnel will have important long-term positive benefits for the economies and regional competitiveness of both New Jersey and New York.
In addition, during the construction of THE Tunnel, New Jersey and New York will share economic benefits as a result of the creation of approximately 6,000 construction-related jobs each year. Construction will generate real personal income within the bi-state region in excess of $3.5 billion in 2006 dollars.
Today, roughly half of all Manhattan-bound commuters cross the Hudson River to go to work.