In another good sign for the long-proposed Scranton-New York passenger train, three companies have bid to extend the existing service in New Jersey a bit closer to the Poconos.
The companies submitted bids last week to New Jersey Transit to expand service from the agency’s Port Morris Junction to Andover in New Jersey. That would leave about 21 miles of track to be installed on the famous but trackless Lackawanna Cutoff. New Jersey Transit operates the state’s passenger trains.
So far, New Jersey Transit has installed about 4.25 miles of the 7.3 miles between the junction and Andover. The companies bid to install the remainder and repair what is called the Roseville Tunnel.
The companies and their offers are:
A. Servidone Inc./B. Anthony Construction Corp. Joint venture, $43,391,958. Railroad-Michels Joint Venture LLC, $48,920,616. Schiavone Construction Co. LLC, $32,410,490. New Jersey Transit spokesman Jim Smith could not say when the agency will award a contract. New Jersey Transit previously set the target date for opening Andover Station at 2025.
The agency offered no further expansion to the Poconos, but its plan moved forward even as Amtrak, the nation’s largest passenger railroad, offered to start its own service between Scranton and New York.
Amtrak’s project, originally estimated at $1.4 billion, would include installing tracks on the rest of the cutoff and railroad signals, building stations, upgrading existing bridges and tracks, and l purchase of locomotives and wagons. Amtrak is in the midst of a more detailed study of costs and other aspects. An Amtrak official recently said the study could be completed by August.
Attorney Larry Malski, chairman of the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority, which has worked to restore the Scranton-New York service for more than three decades, said the New Jersey Transit project shows the restoration effort is real. and already funded with federal money.
“This is a major step forward for the project. You have to get the tunnel done,” Malski said. “Our argument is that if you analyze us against the other 39 corridors (proposed new Amtrak passenger train) spread across the country, ours is on the way. It’s a federally funded rail expansion project that’s underway and under construction, period. I therefore consider this to be a very important criterion for prioritizing and moving our project forward.
Installing the remaining approximately 21 miles of missing cutoff track and upgrading two overpasses remain the largest parts of the project still on hold besides the New Jersey Transit project. The railroad authority owns the existing track between Scranton and the Poconos while New Jersey Transit owns the railroad right-of-way across the border.