Work to Start on $8.7B Rail Tunnel Linking N.J., NYC

Fri June 19, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Victor Epstein

NORTH BERGEN, New Jersey (AP) Construction began June 8 on the largest U.S. transportation project, an $8.7 billion tunnel that’s expected to double the number of rail commuters shuttled between New Jersey and Manhattan during peak rush periods.

Some commuters will shave 15 minutes or more off their commute times each way because they no longer will be required to switch trains to reach Manhattan, according to NJ Transit.

“This is an incredible project,’’ New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine told a crowd of 750 people at a ceremony June 8 in northern New Jersey. “In today’s economic recession, it has the added value of creating 6,000 new jobs day in and day out for the next six or seven years.’’

The new tunnel will add two more rail lines, speeding the work commute from New Jersey to New York City by increasing the number of NJ Transit passenger trains passing under the river during peak rush hour from 23 to 48.

Federal Transit Administration chief Peter Rogoff said the federal government’s $3 billion contribution to the project is the largest ever by his agency.

Officials estimate the project will create 6,000 construction jobs and add another 45,000 new jobs after completion in 2017.

Rogoff said the tunnel will shorten rail trips in densely populated New York City and northern New Jersey, which have some of the nation’s longest commutes.