January 08, 2013
By Mike Frassinelli
New NJ Transit station planned for Northeast Corridor rail line
NORTH BRUNSWICK -- Transit has plans for a "flyover" track and a new train station in North Brunswick to improve on-time performance and commuting choices on the Northeast Corridor — North America’s busiest rail line.
NJ Transit is planning a new train station
in North Brunswick in conjunction with
a flyover track and other capacity
improvements on the Northeast Corridor,
North America's busiest rail line.
Frances Micklow/The Star-Ledger
The projects would be done in conjunction with North Brunswick’s plans to turn the old Johnson & Johnson complex on Route 1 into a residential-and-retail development centered around transit. In addition, Amtrak plans to upgrade electrical wiring and signals on a straight, high-speed section of the Northeast Corridor from New Brunswick to just south of Trenton known as "The Raceway."
The station, with a 1,000-foot long platform to handle the 12-car train sets on the Northeast Corridor, could be built in 2018 and accommodate local and off-peak stops. It would be the first NJ Transit station on the corridor since Secaucus Junction in 2003 and Hamilton in 1999.
From south to north, the station would follow Princeton Junction and precede New Brunswick’s Jersey Avenue Station. The stretch between Princeton Junction and Jersey Avenue is the longest gap between stations on the Northeast Corridor Line.
"North Brunswick people generally go to the Jersey Avenue train station or they go to East Brunswick to grab a bus," said North Brunswick Mayor Francis "Mac" Womack III. "This would be a big help."
Right now, commuters "could be going south to get north, depending on their proximity," said Kevin O’Connor, NJ Transit’s vice president and general manager of rail operations.
Just south of the proposed station would be a looping flyover track. Similar to a flyover ramp on a highway, the extra stretch of track would eliminate the need to cross in front of train traffic.
The loop would allow NJ Transit to save money by turning around a number of trains a little below the North Brunswick station, instead of having to go all the way down to around Trenton.
Riders on trains that make the loop would have the unusual sight of watching the other four tracks of the Northeast Corridor Line underneath them.
NJ Transit is requesting proposals from firms for preliminary design and engineering, construction assistance and other technical services for the "Mid-Line Loop" flyover track and new passenger rail station.
A pre-proposal conference has been scheduled for Thursday at NJ Transit’s headquarters in Newark, and proposals are due by the end of the business day on Feb. 15.
"We think there will be many companies interested in this," said Steve Santoro, assistant executive director of NJ Transit’s capital planning and programs.
For the past few years, big billboards outside the old Johnson & Johnson complex have told passers-by to imagine a train station and transit village on the site. With the request for proposal, the time for imagining is over and the time for work is beginning.
Paul Wyckoff, chief of government and external affairs for NJ Transit, said there would be many benefits for commuters.
"You’ve got a new station that will help accommodate the growth and demand we see over the next decade-plus in that part of the state," he said. "And the Mid-Line Loop will allow our trains to get onto the corridor without crossing the four tracks of the Northeast Corridor as they have to do now. It’s sort of analogous to taking an at-grade intersection on a busy highway and building a flyover, so that you get rid of that traffic light and that disruption to the flow of traffic ... It’s like taking a stop light off of Route 46."
While it is still too early to definitively quote costs, a new station could cost about $30 million and the loop could cost "several hundred million," officials said.
NJ Transit also is looking to expand the capacity of its rail yard at Jersey Avenue, allowing the agency to add more and longer sets of trains onto the corridor, providing more seats and travel options for commuters.