NEWARK, N. J. — Momentum continued to build toward construction of the Mass Transit Tunnel today with the N.J. Transit Board approving key agreements with partner agencies.
The agreements — with Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — establish frameworks to ensure coordination and efficiency during the multi-year construction phase and come just one month after the Federal Transit Administration issued a Record of Decision completing the environmental review process and clearing the project for federal funding and final design.
The agreement with the Port Authority formalizes the agency’s $3 billion investment in the project.
“We are pleased with these steps which allow us to build this project on budget and on schedule,” said Transportation Commissioner and N.J. Transit Chairman Stephen Dilts.
N.J. Transit’s agreement with Amtrak sets forth the terms to reimburse Amtrak for support and services required, and expands passenger rail benefits from the project after construction by creating additional NY Penn Station capacity for Amtrak service when the Mass Transit Tunnel opens in 2017.
“These agreements demonstrate how far we have come with this project and how close we are to putting shovel in the ground,” said N.J. Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles.
The Port Authority and N.J. Transit have been partners in advancing the Mass Transit Tunnel project for more than a decade. A General Project Agreement approved today formalizes each agency’s role and responsibilities and includes the creation of a joint project oversight team, with N.J. Transit continuing as the lead agency for procurement and administration of design and construction contracts.
“Cooperation between NJ Transit and the Port Authority in recent years has brought the ARC tunnel to the brink of reality,” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia. “Formalizing our relationship will make the process even smoother and help ensure we get shovels in the ground and create needed construction jobs faster, once we secure the project’s necessary federal funding.”
“Ours is an example of a shovel-ready project that will yield immediate benefits, as well as pay dividends to future generations,” Dilts said. “These important partner agreements only bolster our position.”
The project will boost the regional economy during the construction phase by generating and maintaining 6,000 jobs each year through 2017 and by creating 44,000 permanent jobs thereafter.
“The ARC mass-transit tunnel is critical to the short-term and long-term economic health of the New York/New Jersey region and this cooperative agreement will help futher that goal,” said Christopher O. Ward, the Port Authority’s executive director.
“Our two agencies are demonstrating that significant progress can be made on a major project by working cooperatively,” said Susan Bass Levin, the Port Authority’s deputy executive director. “The result will be a legacy of improved access between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan for future generations of commuters.”
The Mass Transit Tunnel project (also known as Access to the Region’s Core), includes construction of two new single-track tunnels under the Hudson River to supplement the two century-old tracks that exist today. Because the current tunnel offers only “one track in and one track out,” it has long been a chokepoint for N.J. Transit and Amtrak trains operating into and out of New York.
The new tunnel will allow N.J. Transit to double the number of trains during each peak hour — 23 trains today to 48 when the tunnel opens — creating faster trips, and new one-seat (direct) rides for thousands of customers on all N.J. Transit commuter rail lines that now require mid-trip transfers.
Other key elements include a six-track station under 34th Street in Manhattan, connections from several rail lines and midday train storage facilities.