State Announces Progress On NJ/NY Commuter Rail Project

TRENTON – The State of New Jersey, in partnership with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has reached a major milestone in a project designed to increase commuter rail capacity between New Jersey and New York, officials announced earlier this week. The Mass Transit Tunnel project received federal approval of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

The monumental project, also known as Access to the Region’s Core (ARC), will greatly enrich commuter rail service between New Jersey and New York, doubling train capacity with two new single-track tunnels under the Hudson River, an expanded Penn Station in New York and track and signal improvements on and along the Northeast Corridor from east of Newark to New York.

“This key federal approval dovetails with our economic recovery plan, which includes a commitment to major capital projects that can jumpstart the state’s construction sector and ensure the creation of thousands of jobs for New Jersey residents,” said Gov. Jon Corzine.

The project will provide customers on 10 of NJ Transit’s 11 rail lines with one-seat, transfer-free rides to New York. It will remove more than 22,000 cars from the New Jersey Turnpike and other area highways, providing motorists the benefit of reduced traffic congestion. It will create almost 6,000 construction jobs and officials claim that it will help generate 44,000 permanent jobs providing an additional $2 billion in annual personal income for the state’s residents.

“Without a doubt the Mass Transit Tunnel project is New Jersey’s signature public transportation endeavor against which all others will be measured for decades to come, and that is why I intend to work tirelessly for the federal funding that will make this crowning achievement a reality,” said Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

“With change coming to the halls of Congress and to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I believe that arguments for stimulating the nation’s faltering economy through the targeted funding of worthy public projects will be heard loud and clear and acted on quickly,” said Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

The Federal Transit Administration’s approval of the FEIS was published in the Federal Register on Nov. 8. Following a 30-day comment period, the FTA can issue a Record of Decision, formally concluding the environmental study process and opening the door for New Jersey to receive federal matching funds.

The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority today unanimously approved an amendment to the Regional Transportation Plan updating the cost of the project.

“Federal approval of the FEIS for a project of this scope and complexity places construction of the tunnel – and the resulting significant short- and long- term economic benefits – on the near horizon,” said PANYNJ Chairman Anthony Coscia. “We are very excited about achieving this major milestone.”

“With the FTA’s approval, NJ Transit will launch the final design phase of this tremendously important project that will benefit rail commuters and motorists alike by doubling rail capacity and easing roadway congestion,” said NJ Transit Chairman and Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri.

“We look forward to a continuation of our solid and productive partnership with NJ Transit as this crucial undertaking advances into the construction phase,” said PANYNJ Executive Director Christopher Ward.

“Years of planning, public feedback and strong support from our partners and from elected leaders in New Jersey and New York has brought us to this point where we can say with confidence that we’ll have shovels in the ground in 2009,” said NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles.

The state and the Port Authority have committed $5.7 billion in local funding to the project and will be seeking $3 billion in federal matching funds.

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