Office of the Governor
New Jersey breaks ground on
nation's largest TRANSIT project
(North Bergen)-- Building upon the region’s rich legacy of major public transportation assets, Governor Jon S. Corzine, Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and a group of other federal, state and local officials today broke ground on the Mass Transit Tunnel project, the largest transit public works project in America.
“Today’s groundbreaking represents an historic $8.7 billion dollar transit infrastructure project, the largest in the nation,” Governor Corzine said. “It will create thousands of jobs for hardworking families across the region, promote better mobility and provide enormous environmental benefits. Thanks to Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, New Jersey’s champions of mass-transit and infrastructure, for securing this funding that is a transportation imperative for the state, the region and the nation.”
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 Governor 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 Obama Administration is thrilled to partner with New Jersey to build this truly transformational investment,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “It will improve the lives of thousands by shortening their commute. And best of all, it will create jobs now! The Obama Administration is committed to seeing this project through to its completion.”
“With today’s ground breaking, it’s not just show time – it's go time,” Senator Frank R. Lautenberg said. “People are fed up with traffic and congestion and this new tunnel will bring relief. President Obama has agreed to be our partner in this critical effort because he understands that this tunnel is not just important to our region, but to the whole nation. I’m proud we secured the federal funding to make this project a reality and I will keep fighting for the resources we need to get the job done.”
Today’s $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.
Senator Robert Menendez said, “As we start digging this tunnel, we’re helping to dig out of our economic crisis. As we’re getting underway, we’re seeing the Recovery Act pay dividends right now—and we’re literally laying the groundwork for recovery. The tunnel is a prime example of a mass transit project that we can get going immediately, bringing money back to our state, making our commutes faster and our air cleaner—and most importantly, creating tens of thousands of jobs.”
“The awarding of $130 million in stimulus dollars highlights how important the ARC Mass Transit Tunnel project is not just to New Jersey, but to our nation’s leaders in Washington,” said Congressman Albio Sires, District 13. “Construction of the project could not come at a better time; the project will put thousands of people back to work and will jump start the region’s economy.”
The Mass Transit Tunnel project will double trans-Hudson River rail capacity by adding two new single-track tunnels – supplementing the existing two tracks that opened for service in 1910 and now are pushed to their functional limits each commuting day – as well as expand New York Penn Station with a new facility specifically designed to meet the high-ridership needs of a modern commuter rail system.
New York Governor David Paterson said, “This tunnel is great news for New York commuters and equally good news for the state's and the region's economy. At a time when we're struggling through an economic slowdown, this project will provide a timely boost by creating thousands of good-paying construction jobs, while ensuring that workers will have convenient access to our substantial job and entertainment markets for years to come.”
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 start of work on the Mass Transit Tunnel is a testament to cooperation among New Jersey, New York, and federal officials working together, we are putting shovels into the ground to create jobs now and support the bi-state region’s economic growth in the future,” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia.
“Today this project finally moves from the drawing board to construction,” said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward. “The Port Authority is proud to be part of a project that will allow tens of thousands of people to move more easily around the region.”
“Transit is a crucial part of our transportation network and this project will reduce roadway congestion, taking 22,000 cars off our roadways and prevent 67,000 tons of greenhouse gases from polluting our environment,” said Transportation Commissioner Stephen Dilts.
“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.