NJ Transit, Amtrak start big upgrades at 4 stations on Northeast Corridor
NJ Transit and Amtrak are kicking off construction work at four stations on the Northeast Corridor Line this fall.
The work is mostly being paid for by Amtrak and is related to an agreement announced in February, when the state and federal transit agencies reached a deal on back payments of rent from NJ Transit that had been withheld starting under then-Gov. Chris Christie in a feud over safety issues.
“After years of literally next to zero cooperation — which I think, if anything, overstates the case — under the previous New Jersey administration, we’re now back working together,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a news conference in New Brunswick.
“Both NJ Transit commuters and Amtrak riders will begin to see a series of significant improvements both on the platforms and in the stations that will make access easier, waiting more comfortable and enhance safety and importantly ADA compliance,” he said.
New Brunswick Station: Improvements to the elevator system; an extension of the eastbound platform for extra boarding capacity; significant rehabilitation of the station’s exterior brick façade; installation of new lighting, windows, HVAC system, and escalator; and a paint refresh.
Elizabeth Station: Addition of two new elevators; updating the existing two elevators; the addition of ADA-complaint ramps; and building new high-level platforms, which will also increase the platform area for passengers.
Trenton Transit Center: Replacement of damaged timber boards that are located past the yellow warning strip on the platform to improve customer safety.
Princeton Junction: General platform repairs to improve customer safety, including the refresh of platforms that have deteriorated for decades from exposure to weather and de-icing agents. This includes reinforcing the platform supports, patching concrete, repainting the yellow warning strip, and general repair of the stairs and handrails.
Murphy said around 90% of the cost is being paid by Amtrak, with around 10% coming from the state Transportation Trust Fund.
Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia said the work will improve the quality of the customers’ experience – eventually.
“The truth is that much of what we deal with are dealing with issues that have been festering for a very long period of time,” Coscia said. “The truth is we’ve all underinvested and under-addressed issues that people need in infrastructure generally but certainly within the transportation system.”
“The problem is that you get a certain point where you can do something about it and it occurs to you that trying to do something about it is going to be very painful. These are not easy problems to fix,” he said.
“As painful as it might be to rip this Band-Aid off and fix these problems – and there will be disruption in doing it, and there will be cost in resources – we need to do it. The longer we wait, the harder the problem is,” Coscia said.
Murphy said the work in New Brunswick and Elizabeth will take a few years to complete.
“So folks, have patience. We will get there. We won’t get there overnight, but we’ll get there,” Murphy said. “And folks can see that there’s a journey that we’re on. We know where we’re headed. It’s a good place that we’re headed.”