NEWARK – The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today approved the first major tunneling contract for the $8.7 billion Mass Transit Tunnel, the nation’s largest public transit project that will double commuter rail capacity between New Jersey and New York.
The board authorized the award of a $583 million contract to a joint venture of Barnard of New Jersey and Judlau Contracting Inc. of College Point, N.Y., the lowest of three bidders. The contract covers construction of one of the project’s three tunnel segments, a mile-long segment in Manhattan.
“By improving this critical transportation corridor, we are ensuring that our tunnels remain a source of economic strength and mobility for New Jersey and the region,” said Governor Jon S. Corzine. “This contract will provide an immediate boost to our economy with the Manhattan and Palisades tunnel segments expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs and the Mass Transit Tunnel project as a whole creating many more jobs over the next several years.”
NJ TRANSIT expects to receive bids for the Palisades tunnel segment within weeks, followed by the third and final Hudson River segment.
The Manhattan tunnel segment is part of an overall project to build two new single-track commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River, doubling capacity of the two-track tunnel that was built 100 years ago, which today operates at its functional capacity. The other main feature of the project is construction of an expanded New York Penn Station specially designed to handle the customer surges associated with a commuter railroad.
“This project positions NJ TRANSIT to respond effectively to the demands of New Jersey residents for 21st-century transportation options that decrease our reliance on fossil fuel while improving the environment,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chairman Stephen Dilts.
The project is being built by NJ TRANSIT in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
“This is a major project that helps ensure we have the capacity to meet the growing demand for public transportation,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles. “It benefits residents throughout New Jersey by creating operational flexibility system-wide, as well as opportunities for convenient, one-seat rides to and from New York for customers on ten of our 12 commuter rail lines.”
The additional commuter rail capacity provided by the new tunnel will remove an estimated 22,000 vehicles from regional roadways each day.
The project is expected to generate and sustain 6,000 jobs annually in peak construction years and create 44,000 permanent jobs after completion, according to transit officials.
The Manhattan tunnels segment will be constructed under a design-build contract that includes final design and construction of rail tunnels that will extend a distance of approximately one mile from a shaft at Twelfth Avenue and 28th Street in Manhattan.
Construction will begin early next year, and is expected to continue through late 2013.
The contractor will construct a 160-foot diameter access shaft on the western edge of Manhattan, and then bore 16,500 feet of tunnels averaging more than 120 feet beneath the surface to a new expansion of Penn Station under 34th Street between Eighth and Sixth avenues.
The twin tunnels will be located an average of 120 feet below street level and will proceed diagonally northeast then eastward and split into four tunnels to maximize train movements in and out of the expanded New York Penn Station as the tunnels approach 34th Street.
The contractor will perform the excavation using two tunnel boring machines, massive equipment units that cut through rock and other material to form tunnels that are each about 27 feet in diameter. The total length of the tunnels included in this contract segment is 16,500 feet.
The Mass Transit Tunnel will double 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 project also will also create transfer-free, one-seat rides for travelers on 10 of NJ TRANSIT’s 12 rail lines.
The Port Authority is contributing $3 billion toward the Mass Transit Tunnel project cost, while the federal government will contribute $3 billion under its “New Starts” transit funding program. Another $2.7 billion will come from a combination of other federal funds, including stimulus and clean air funding, as well as the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s congestion mitigation contribution.
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