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The Commissioner's Report


New Jersey breaks ground
on historic mass transit tunnel project

Over the past few months, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT have moved forward on many new transportation projects. These projects are putting thousands of people to work while also improving the transportation system on which we all rely. No project exemplifies this combination of benefits more than the Mass Transit Tunnel (MTT), which officially broke ground on June 8 in North Bergen.

Governor Jon Corzine, Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff were on hand to mark the start of construction on this historic project. Work in this first contract includes the construction of an underpass, relocation of utilities, and the completion of other necessary tunneling preparation work around Tonelle Avenue in North Bergen. Eventually, the $8.7 billion MTT will include about two dozen construction contracts, and the pace of building will soon accelerate rapidly.

For instance, procurement is underway for two of the major tunneling contracts, the contract for the project’s tunnels under Manhattan, and for the tunnel segment under the Palisades Mountain. Both of those large jobs will start construction this winter.

The new tunnel’s progress is great news for commuters. The MTT will more than double the existing commuter rail capacity between New Jersey and New York City, from 23 to 48 trains per hour, while breaking the bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor that now clogs our rail network. In addition, the project will enhance and expand New Jersey’s rail service and will provide express service.

By attracting many more rail riders, the MTT will take over 22,000 cars off the road daily. This will relieve congestion for tens of thousands of motorists who use our highway system every day, reduce the amount of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases in the air we breathe, and improve the quality of life throughout the state.

Meanwhile, breaking ground on this project could not come at a better time for our state. The Mass Transit Tunnel will serve as a powerful economic stimulus, creating jobs and real personal income in both the short and long term. During construction, the MTT will create over 6,000 construction jobs annually, helping New Jersey’s economy to recover. In addition to putting people back to work today, the MTT will create 44,000 permanent jobs after it opens.

The MTT is truly a generational project on par with the great public works of the last century, such as the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel. Like those transformational transportation projects, the Mass Transit Tunnel will bring mobility benefits that will last for generations.

One hundred years ago, the leaders of the Pennsylvania Railroad built the current rail tunnels, inaugurating a new era of prosperity and traveling convenience for the region. Through the vision and dedication of the Governor, the senators and other leaders in New Jersey and the region, we are now doing the same for future generations. That’s a legacy of which we can all be proud.

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  Department of Transportation
  P.O. Box 600
  Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
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  Last Updated:  June 25, 2009