Today the New York City Council voted unanimously to approve the land-use plan of the ARC Mass Transit Tunnel, which will add a new rail link between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan. The council’s consent clears the way for tunnel construction to begin in Manhattan later this year. In June, work began on the New Jersey side near Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen.
The Port Authority and NJ Transit are hoping to complete the massive passenger rail project by 2017, and expect it to create approximately 6,000 construction jobs annually. ARC will double trans-Hudson commuter capacity, increasing the maximum number of trains per hour from 23 to 48. It will also add redundancy to the existing 100-year-old, two-track tunnel. Transit authorities expect the increased rail service to eliminate 22,000 automobile trips per day.
The council vote is the final major government approval for the project, which has been on the boards since 1995. From this point on, the only approvals that will remain in ARC’s way will be periodic environmental reviews, said a Port Authority spokesperson.
In January, federal authorities completed their approvals, including a sweeping environmental assessment, and approved ARC for $130 million in stimulus bill funds. The $8.7 billion project also received $400 million from the Federal Transit Administration and $125 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. The Port Authority, NJ Transit, and the state of New Jersey apportioned $5.75 billion to the project.
The work in Manhattan will include expanding Penn Station under 34th Street and building underground connections for the first time to the Sixth Avenue subway lines.