USA: The start of construction on the first element of the $8·7bn commuter rail tunnel linking northern New Jersey with central New York was marked on June 8 by a groundbreaking ceremony in North Bergen, New Jersey. An Early System Work Agreement provides $1·35bn in funding for the initial stages of construction, about half of which comes from federal sources, including the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act aimed at stimulating the national economy.

Due to open in 2017, the 14·2 km twin single-track tubes will require excavation of 2 million cubic metres of rock and soil. The tunnels will parallel an existing pair that feed into New York’s Penn Station from the west, which are now operating at capacity at peak times. Penn Station is to be expanded as part of the programme, with NJ Transit planning to double throughput from the present maximum of 23 trains/h to 48.

  • A joint venture of Aecom, Parsons Brinckerhoff and STV has signed an agreement worth $111m to ‘complete final design and preparation of contract-bid packages’ for the tunnel.