On Wednesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will make a further “down payment” toward an eventual commitment of $3 billion by approving a $765 million Early Systems Work Agreement (ESWA) amendment to continue and expand work on the Access to the Region’s Core rail project, which will carry the rail line under the Hudson River. The agreement includes $385 million in federal funds matched by $380 million in local funding.
“This project is not only essential to meeting the transit needs of many thousands in the community,” LaHood said. “But the Obama Administration also recognizes that it will create good-paying jobs for thousands more, fueling the region’s recovery.”
LaHood said that the announcement reaffirms the administration’s firm intent to enter into a full funding grant agreement to provide $3 billion in discretionary FTA New Starts funds for the $8.7 billion project. The nine-mile commuter rail extension will consist of two new tunnels under the Hudson River, new rail tracks between Secaucus Junction and New York’s Penn Station, and a new rail station underneath 34th Street in midtown Manhattan.
This mega transit project will allow NJ Transit to double rail service capacity into Manhattan, free up capacity for Amtrak, and reduce travel times and crowding on trains and at Penn Station.
“Our $3 billion commitment to this project will be the largest in the 33-year history of the FTA,” FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff said. “By providing these additional resources now, we will create thousands of jobs on a project that will shorten the commute for millions of New Jersey and New York residents in the future.”
The FTA made an initial $1.35 billion available for the project in June, including funds from the Recovery Act. The ESWA will help NJ Transit meet key milestones and keep the project on schedule and within budget by allowing the immediate use of federal and local funds for tunneling and related construction work.