On Thursday, the NJ Transit board of directors unanimously approved the first of numerous contract packages for the multi-billion-dollar Mass Transit Tunnel (MTT) initiative.
The board action sets the stage for a MTT groundbreaking ceremony in the coming weeks and greenlights construction of a railroad underpass at Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen. The underpass will be adjacent to where the $8.7 billion project goes underground, allowing the MTT’s two new rail tracks to begin their descent under Palisades Mountain.
The $13.6 million construction contract will be awarded to Ferreira Construction Co. Inc., of Branchburg, N.J. In addition to the Tonnelle Avenue underpass, the contract calls for relocation of utilities and construction of a new railroad embankment immediately west of Tonnelle Avenue.
The underpass contract is being funded with a portion of NJ Transit’s $424 million share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Future contracts will build the tunnels that will carry NJ Transit trains under the Palisades, under the Hudson River and to and from an expanded New York Penn Station.
The Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Mass Transit Tunnel project will more than double the number of trains that can travel between New Jersey and New York to 48 per hour, from the current 23. This will eliminate a bottleneck along the existing two rail tracks which are pushed to their functional limits during every peak travel period.
The additional capacity will create one-seat (transfer-free) rides to and from New York for thousands of customers on ten existing NJ Transit commuter rail lines and future lines as the statewide commuter rail system is expanded.
The underpass project is expected to be completed in 2012.