[IMAGE]NJ-cavern-full.jpg[/IMAGE]New Jersey Transit broke ground Monday on the Mass Transit Tunnel project, touted as the largest transit public works project in America. New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine; Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez; FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff; and a group of other federal, state and local officials were in attendance.
“Today’s groundbreaking represents an historic $8.7 billion dollar transit infrastructure project, the largest in the nation,” Gov. Corzine said “It will create thousands of jobs for hardworking families across the region, promote better mobility and provide enormous environmental benefits."
The $8.7 billion Mass Transit Tunnel (MTT) project, being built in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, is expected to generate and sustain 6,000 jobs through the construction phase of two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River, an expanded New York Penn Station and other key elements, reinvigorating the link between New Jersey and New York and benefiting the regional economy with improved mobility. It is expected to create 44,000 permanent jobs.
U.S. Senators Lautenberg, Menendez and Gov. Corzine also announced a major funding agreement with the Obama Administration that enables the initial phases of the project to advance with federal funding support.
The Early Systems Work Agreement (ESWA) provides $1.35 billion in funding for the early phases of the project, about half of which is from federal sources including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The $1.35 billion agreement includes a down payment of $400 million of funding from the Federal Transit Administration (towards a $3 billion FTA commitment), $130 million in federal stimulus funds and $125 million in Federal Highway congestion mitigation funds.
Doubling the number of tracks for trains operating between New Jersey and New York will increase service capacity to 48 trains per hour during peak periods from the current 23 trains. Twice as many passengers will be able to be accommodated, from 46,000 each morning peak period now to 90,000 in the future.
“The Mass Transit Tunnel will give more access across the state to our rail system with better capacity, enhanced reliability and fewer transfers to major destinations in New Jersey and New York,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard R. Sarles. “It delivers better rail service for more and improves the quality of life for our travelers.
Fifteen years of study starting with 137 project alternatives, numerous public meetings and input in conformance with federal regulations, produced the finished plan. The project has been designed to allow for expansion in Manhattan to the east in the future as conditions and funding permit.
METRO TV: To view video footage of the groundbreaking and a simulation of the tunnel project, click here.