As passenger rail service continues to rise, Amtrak has announced an “aggressive” construction agenda for 2012. For example, Amtrak intends to spend $15 million in 2012 for planning and other pre-construction activities on its Gateway Program to provide additional capacity into Manhattan for Amtrak intercity and New Jersey Transit commuter services, including the proposed NextGen HSR system. As part of the overall plan, which is expected to cost several billion dollars, Amtrak will build two additional tunnels under the Hudson River to access expanded terminal facilities serving New York Penn Station and the future Moynihan Station on the site of the former Farley Post Office. In addition, Amtrak plans to replace and expand the century old Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and increase from two to four the number of tracks between Newark and New York.
Amtrak also announced that it will advance design, engineering and other pre-construction activities for a $450 million project funded by the federal high-speed rail program that will boost top train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph along a 24-mile section of the NEC between Trenton and New Brunswick, New Jersey. The project supports the goals of the Gateway Program and includes upgrading track, electrical power, signal systems and overhead catenary wires to permit the faster speeds and also reconfigures track switches at the western entrance to New York Penn Station to mitigate congestion issues. Major construction work will begin in 2013 with project completion expected in 2017.
Amtrak is also continuing construction on this $125 million multi-year project to replace the movable Niantic River Bridge originally built in 1907 and located between East Lyme and Waterford, Conn. Partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the new bridge will enable Amtrak to increase speeds and minimize traffic and delays. The project involves constructing a new two-track, electrified railroad bascule bridge just south of its present position, new track alignments on both approaches to the bridge and expansion of the navigation channel beneath the bridge and an increase in the vertical under-clearance above the water for the benefit of river traffic. Also, sections of the Niantic Bay Overlook boardwalk will be reconstructed and the beach replenished. The project is expected to be completed in May 2013.
Finally, in 2012, Amtrak will continue work on a $72 million multi-year project in 2012 to replace track in all four of its East River tunnels that access New York Penn Station. The track structure for the full length of each tunnel will be replaced, including new ties, rail, and ballast plus other drainage improvements. The project will improve the reliability of both Amtrak intercity and Long Island Railroad commuter rail services and is expected to be completed in mid-2015.