ARC Tunnel Project

Biersdorf & Associates file number: 3011 and 3024

The statistics and general project info contained below was provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

It’s no surprise that New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) ridership quadrupled over the past 20 years and that it is expected to double again over the next 20 years.  Since 1984, NJ Transit’s rail passenger ridership into New York City has grown from 10 million to 46 million trips per year.

This aggressive increase in ridership has caused significant overcrowding in Penn Station and its tunnels.  At peak times, the 3 railroads serving Penn Station (NJ Transit, Long Island Rail Road and Amtrack) deliver 61 trains per hour; many carrying 1500 or more passengers into a station that was not even designed for commuter traffic.  Penn Station does not have enough stairwells, escalators, elevators, exits and not enough room on their platforms to accommodate this influx of commuters.

For those readers not aware of the current structure of the rail lines into New York City, you should know that the entire commuter rail system between New Jersey and New York reduces to a slim, two-track century year old rail line under the Hudson River.

Currently, the existing trans-Hudson commuter options are used beyond their functional limits during peak travel times, and therefore create delays in the upwards of 30-60 minutes.  As structured today, the trans-Hudson transportation system will not sustain the increase in ridership expected over the next 20 years.

In response to the dilapidated transit conditions, the ARC Project (Access to the Regions Core), a mass transit initiative, was spearheaded by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to increase rail capacity into Midtown Manhattan, and to improve regional connectivity.  The Mass Transit Tunnel will be constructed deep underground in order to accommodate existing building foundations, current subway tunnels and underground utility lines.  The tunnel will stretch from Kearny Yards, New Jersey to 34th Street in Manhattan.

The project consists of constructing 2 new tracks in the Meadowlands, two new single-track commuter rail lines under the Hudson River into the Manhattan, and the expansion of Penn Station under 34th Street with new platforms,  a mezzanine, and entrances at 6th and 8th Avenue.

Upon completion, passengers will have direct pedestrian connections to 14 subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road, Amtrck and PATH services.  Also, capacity and a connection to the main Bergen County, Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines will allow for transfer-free service to Penn Station New York.

Additional Benefits:

  1. The Mass Transit Tunnel (MTT) will more than double rail capacity between NYC and New Jersey to 48 trains per hour from the current 23 trains.
  2. MTT will take 22,000 cars off the NJ Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and other roads
  3. The MTT will help reduce greenhouse gasses and other pollutants by 66,000 tons per year
  4. The project will generate 6,000 new jobs and will create $45 billion of new economic activity

As provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, following is a project overview map:

Arc Tunnel Project Overview

Construction of the tunnel began in 2009 in New Jersey, and is expected to begin later this year at the shaft site in Manhattan at 12th Avenue and 28th Street.  Construction at other major shaft sites is not expected to begin until 2011.  Major tunneling should begin in 2010, and detailed construction schedules regarding the rest of the project are currently being developed.

The construction of this project will require the acquisition of private property and the filing of restrictive declarations.  We will discuss these facts and issues in the next blog.

For information Regarding the Project, please visit the Arc Tunnel project website.

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2 Comments to “ARC Tunnel Project”

  1. brucewhain says:

    Yes, but don’t you think 90 (ninety) fully and partially displaced busnesses in Midtown vicinity of the new “Penn Station Annex is a bit much?

    Given the current situation with politicians coming to groundbreakings and saying train tunnels will handle plenty of cars (that is automobiles) the best thing to do is to try and get them to call it off:

    1. If the tunnel is going somewhere north of 32nd Street (32nd Street is location of the present Penn Station tunnel.) why doesn’t it start out somewhere north of 32nd Street in New Jersey, instead snaking its way from the Northeast Corridor opposite 32nd Street as far south as 21st Street before finally turning, underground, and proceeding north to 34th? …CROSSING UNDER THE EXISTING LINE IN THE PROCESS?! The route is circuitous and – obviously, if you look at a map – the new tracks should go on the NORTH side of the existing Northeast Corridor if only to avoid the stupid tight curve at Bergen Hill, a ludicrous insult to the original line built at cost of life and limb.

    2. Why do they wait till the Final EIS to make borings, relying in the Draft EIS on one 1906 Pennsylvania Railroad boring? …then change the entire configuration on land and under water based on their new borings? …MAKING THE LINE VASTLY MORE CIRCUITOUS IN THE PROCESS?! (The version usually shown on websites is more direct that the one in the Final EIS, though it is less direct than the one in the Draft EIS.)

    3. Why now… do they figure out a plan (West Side Y and Loop) obviating the already built Lautenberg Station? God only knows. But putting this ludicrous 1.5-mile loop connection into service NOW will have catastrophic effects on both the Lautenberg and Hoboken stations, diverting traffic to the deep-subterranean Penn Station annex that might otherwise benefit from what will rightfully be THE regional ferry terminal, just in time for completion of the most recent $30-million phase of ferry terminal remodeling. Trains that would otherwise have been stored at Hoboken for the day will now need to be backtracked from New York to a purpose-built yard with conflictual access problems before returning to New York again for outbound service. And besides, passengers can walk it in less time than it will take trains to traverse the steep grades and tight radiuses of the connecting loop – then making the nevertheless required stop at Lautenberg Station – WITHOUT the dicey train scheduling on the Northeast Corridor.

    Despite its one hundred-year age, the Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad with its North Bergen approach is probably still the greatest piece of railroad engineering ever built: 13 minutes to Newark. The question why so few forward-thinking rail improvements have been made in intervening years – and why especially in the US – is painfully in evidence. The twisting alignment, tight radiuses and three percent grades of the ARC Tunnel Project, and its jerry-rigged provisions for a one-seat-ride – made AFTER the Lautenberg Station is already built – ARE AN INSULT to American railroading, to Alexander Cassatt, and especially, to anyone who would let the perpetrators go through with construction.

  2. brucewhain says:


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