(Video) $117 billion rail plan for Northeast Corridor unveiled

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The Northeast Corridor Commission released Connect NEC 2035 – a 15-year, $117 billion plan to upgrade the region’s rail system, cut travel times, and assist innovation centers like the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus.

The corridor has a long backlog of projects, thanks to century-old bridges and tunnels and bottlenecks in New York City and other areas.

Even smaller projects – like a third track in the Newark, DE area that eliminated a Northeast Corridor bottleneck and paved the way for a new Newark Train Station – were in development for decades. The $70 million third track project was finally completed late last year. (See story below).

Amtrak, state mark completion of $71.2 million third track project between Wilmington and Newark

State governments in the Northeast, the federal government, eight commuter rail agencies, and Amtrak worked  through the NEC Commission to develop what was described as  “detailed and efficient sequencing of infrastructure investments covering 150 projects and capital renewal efforts along the corridor.”

The full corridor  plan is available here

 “Delaware is excited by the opportunities the C35 plan provides for improving passenger rail service in Delaware and along the entire Northeast Corridor. It is a plan that will meet existing and future ridership mobility needs, and improve on-time-performance and the environment,” said Nicole Majeski, Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) secretary. 

Goals

  • Travel time savings valued at nearly $140 million annually for intercity and commuter rail passengers.
  • 26-minute faster trips for Acela riders traveling from DC to New York City and 28-minute faster trips from New York City to Boston
  • Daily Amtrak NEC service increases of 33% and doubled service for several commuter railroads
  • Nearly 1.7 million new jobs and $90 billion in earnings over 15-years throughout the U.S.
  • Enhanced connections between affordable housing areas and job centers.
  • Service for underserved markets.
  • Reduction of greenhouse gases.
  • Supports innovation districts and is a catalyst for ongoing development initiatives in places such as such as Newark, DE, Philadelphia, Providence, and Boston, MA
  • Provides reliable, frequent access to support and sustain transit-oriented development

“C35 represents a big step towards the high-quality rail network our nation and this vital region deserve. The investments in infrastructure laid out in this plan will lead to more modern, reliable, and faster trains, expanded service, and a better customer experience – that will benefit customers, economies and local communities along the entire Northeast Corridor and beyond,” said Stephen Gardner, president of Amtrak. “Amtrak stands ready to join forces with our partners and help deliver the C35 plan.”

The total investment for  C35 over the 15-year period is estimated to be $117 billion in 2020 dollars and the funding gap is approximately $100 billion, to be shared between the federal government and states.

To maximize the sequencing and provide the certainty needed to make long-term investments in workforce development and equipment procurement, multi-year funding needs to be predictable and should fund the plan, rather than individual projects, a release stated.

  Congress established the Northeast Corridor Commission in 2008 to develop coordinated strategies to improve the Northeast’s core rail network.
 

The Commission is governed by a board comprised of one member from each of the NEC states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland) and the District of Columbia; four members from Amtrak; and five members from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Commission also includes non- voting representatives from freight railroads, states with connecting corridors, and commuter operators.

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