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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Northeast Corridor agencies debut five-year capital improvement plan


Various regional transit and government agencies earlier earlier this month released a five-year capital plan for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), which runs from Washington, D.C., to Boston.

Amtrak, the U.S. Department of Transportation and eight commuter-rail agencies are among those that have signed onto the plan to address the region's aging infrastructure. The plan covers a wide swath of improvement projects, from basic repairs, such as replacing old ties, to major rehab efforts on the region's bridges and tunnels.

An estimated $21.1 billion is needed to fully fund both types of projects, officials said.

Several of the plan's projects are fully funded, such as station improvements for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, while others are "shovel ready" but lacking funds. Replacing the century-old Portal Bridge North, which traverses the Hackensack River in New Jersey, is one of the plan's currently unfunded projects.

The agencies behind the plan say it would add about 42,200 jobs per year, with most new hires in the manufacturing and construction fields. Infrastructure projects would also improve overall reliability and efficiency of the area's rail network, officials said.

In an executive summary for the plan, officials said that loss of service along the NEC for a single day could cost the U.S. $100 million in congestion and loss of productivity.

"This scenario becomes more real with each passing day," they wrote. "As infrastructure deteriorates and service levels reach the NEC's practical capacity, we must choose between declining reliability and limited economic growth or building the next generation of railroad."

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More News from 4/21/2015