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    NJ Transit's Sussex County expansion is on track with upgrade to century-old tunnel

    By Bruce A Scruton, Newton New Jersey Herald,

    30 days ago

    BYRAM — Work to install a liner inside the Roseville Tunnel is nearly complete, but active commuter rail service to southern Sussex County is still about two years away.

    The liner project is part of the larger Lackawanna Cut-Off initiative to extend NJ Transit service at least as far as Andover. Upgrades to the more-than-century-old tunnel are intended to prevent rocks from falling on the tracks inside the 1,000-foot-long passageway, which travels through a hill adjacent to C.O. Johnson Park on its way to what will eventually be the Andover railstop.

    The Roseville work is also adding modern communications links for the high-speed trains and the passengers that will roll through the tunnel.

    NJ Transit said 7½ miles of the Lackawanna project's track has already been laid. Installing the rest will be done closer to the end of construction and will be one of the last major pieces of the extension.

    Also still to be done is a study of 1,000 feet of vertical rock cuts along the right-of-way and what, if any, work needs to be done to stabilize those walls.

    NJ Transit may reach Andover by 2026

    Completion is still projected for the fall of 2026 with the building of the new station on Roseville Road. Schiavone Construction Co. LLC of Secaucus is doing the work under a $32.5 million contract.

    U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who represents the area, has been a champion of the project, as well as a potential future extension of rail service from Andover to Scranton, Pennsylvania, with intermediate stops on both sides of the Delaware River.

    Supporters argue that would help alleviate traffic along the I-80 corridor, the main route for Pennsylvania residents who work in northern New Jersey and New York City.

    “After working across the aisle for years, it’s great to see progress on key infrastructure needed to return quality, affordable public transit to North Jersey," the Democratic congressman said this week when asked about a project update.

    "It can’t be overstated how vital a restored Lackawanna Cut-Off railway will be for Sussex County residents. It will decrease commute times, boost the economy, and make Jersey an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family."

    This Andover station project also includes the stabilization of rock slopes, construction of 8,000 feet of track bed, drainage improvements, lighting and communication for the tunnel. Also done are replacement of the Hudson Farm and Junction Brook culverts and related work.

    History of the Lackawanna Cut-Off

    The Lackawanna Cut-Off was built in a three-year period ending in 1911 and was designed to be a high-speed route into the region that bypassed a rail line to the south which went up, down and around the hills in Warren County.

    The "straight" route eliminated more than 40 curves on southerly line and used what was new technology at the time −reinforced concrete −to build the tunnels, as well as millions of tons of fill to create a near-level 28.5 mile route.

    Conrail ceased operation of the Cut-Off in January 1979, removed the track in 1984, and sold the right-of-way to private developers. New Jersey bought out those developers in the early 1970s.

    Email: Twitter/X: @brucescrutonNJH

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