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July 6, 2009

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NEWS HEADLINES

Largest Transit Public Works Project in Nation Breaks Ground; NJ Transit, Port Authority Partner on Trans-Hudson Connection

The largest transit public works project in the nation broke ground in June with the launch of the $8.7 billion Mass Transit Tunnel project between New York and New Jersey. New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey are partnering on this effort, which ultimately will include two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River and an expanded New York Penn Station. The result? Doubled capacity on the nation’s busiest rail corridor, which runs from Washington, DC, to Boston.

Among those in attendance were New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Federal Transit Administrator (FTA) Peter M. Rogoff. Corzine called the project “a transportation imperative for the state, the region, and the nation” that “will create thousands of jobs for hardworking families across the region, promote better mobility, and provide enormous environmental benefits.”

An Early Systems Work Agreement (ESWA) with the administration will provide $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 agreement includes a down payment of $400 million from FTA, part of a total $3 million; $130 million in ARRA funds; and $125 million in federal highway congestion mitigation funds.

According to Rogoff, this is the largest commitment to any transportation project in American in the history of U.S. DOT. “The Obama Administration is thrilled to partner with New Jersey to build this truly transformational investment,” he said. “It will improve the lives of thousands by shortening their commute—and, best of all, it will create jobs now!”

“As we start digging this tunnel,” said Menendez, “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.”

This venture—termed ARC, for Access to the Region’s Core—will double trans-Hudson River rail capacity by adding two new single-track tunnels. ARC will both supplement the existing two tracks, which opened for service in 1910 and now are pushed to their functional limits each commuting day, and expand New York Penn Station with a new facility specifically designed to meet the high-ridership needs of a modern commuter rail system. This development will allow 48 peak-period trains per hour to operate between New Jersey and New York, up from the current 23; this growth will accommodate twice as many passengers, from 46,000 each morning peak period now to 90,000 by 2030.

“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.”

“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.”

Susan Bass Levin, first deputy executive director of the Port Authority, noted the long-term reach of the project, calling it a “tool to unite communities, spur economic development, and create opportunity. ARC will transform the way people move in, out, and through the region for generations to come.”

According to NJ Transit, ARC is expected to generate and sustain 6,000 jobs through the construction phase and 44,000 permanent jobs. Moreover, it will improve transportation in the tri-state area by relieving traffic congestion and decrease air pollution through reduced emissions.

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