Yesterday, NJ Governor Jon Corzine and other federal and NJ state officials broke ground on the $8.7 billion trans-Hudson Mass Transit Tunnel project. The work will double the capacity of NJ Transit. Corzine said, "We are making a contribution to the future that I think is untold. A hundred years from now, the nation and its Northeast corridor will be a better place because of the decisions and the actions we're taking today."
The project, which has been discussed for 15 years, is expected to take 8 years to complete; the NY Times says it "could be the biggest transit project in the country." Over 6,000 construction jobs are expected to be generated, and 44,000 to 50,000 permanent jobs may be created after the project is complete. But there's considerable criticism that the new end station in NYC won't be connected to the old Penn Station. The Star-Ledger explains, "A rail connection to the existing Penn Station had to be scrapped because unstable rock above the new terminal forced NJ Transit to lower the depth of the new station to 150 feet. A connection to Grand Central Station in Manhattan was scuttled because New York City would not allow digging near a 92-year-old water tunnel serving much of Manhattan" (though that could be revisited once the new water tunnel is completed).
Fun fact: It was in 1910 when the last trans-Hudson tunnel was open. And according to the Mass Transit Tunnel website, "This year alone, NJ TRANSIT will provide 44 million passenger trips to Penn Station New York, a staggering 150-percent increase in just the last 10 years. As in many instances, sober realities accompany progress and expansion. With rising gas prices driving record high ridership, the NJ TRANSIT rail network has reached its practical capacity during peak periods, and we must now come to terms with the limitations of the century-old infrastructure that carries all commuter rail trains between New Jersey and New York."