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SECAUCUS, NJ-Allied Outdoor Advertising bought a 28-acre site just off the New Jersey Turnpike for $120,000 in the early 1980s, planning to put of a string of billboards along the toll road. Somewhere along the way, Allied officials decided the site could be better used as a commercial real estate development.

By 1993, the now-named Allied Junction Corp., based in Rutherford, NJ, had a deal with the State of New Jersey to build a rail transfer station, on-site commuter parking, a new Turnpike interchange and up to five office towers soaring as much as 40 stories. Allied CEO William McCann has termed the $450 million project one that “will take New Jersey out of the shadow of New York. We will create a new landmark.”

The State, through New Jersey Transit and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, had earlier staked Secaucus Connection LLC, as Allied’s development arm is called, to more than $55 million to get the transit part of the project rolling. The rail transfer station, which will be the largest train station in the state when it’s finished, has been under construction for several years and is targeted for a fall 2002 completion.

Allied has struggled to get financing for the rest of the project. Now, to keep the slow-moving project rolling, the two state agencies have tentatively agreed to give Allied another $84 million to facilitate track relocation and other capital improvements relating to the transit side of the project. State officials won’t comment on the outlay pending approval by the respective boards. Allied has agreed to repay all the public money, now totaling $140 million.

The project remains highly controversial, and all parties involved are loath to comment. Funding remains a question mark, and construction has been slowed by the fact that the elongated terminal building is being built to support the weight of the proposed office towers, which would be built on top of it.

The goal is to provide a transfer point to Midtown Manhattan for New Jersey and Upstate New York commuters whose rail lines currently end to the east in Hoboken. It would also be used as a commuter hub, accessed by the New Jersey Turnpike – hence the need for a new interchange. The office towers would provide a built-in audience so the facility could be used as a commuter destination in its own right.

The schedule for presenting the proposal for the latest outlay to the two boards has not been announced.

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