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WOODBRIDGE, NJ-The Metropark Station’s existence spawned one of New Jersey’s largest commercial real estate submarkets encompassing this community and neighboring Edison. It even lent its name to a section of this Middlesex County township, including a post office bearing its name. But 35 years after it opened, Metropark Station, a commuter and interstate rail station, is showing its age.

To address that, NJ Transit is set to launch a $50 million modernization of the landmark train station. To get things rolling, officials of the state transportation agency have awarded a $29.8 million contract to Anselmi & DeCicco Inc. of Maplewood, NJ for station improvements and the construction of high-level platforms. Work will begin early next year and NJ Transit officials expect everything to be done by 2010.

Serving more than 100 trains and well over 7,000 riders per day, Metropark is the state’s second busiest train station, with only Newark Penn Station busier. It’s also one of the 25 busiest Amtrak stations. “The heavy use has taken its toll,” George Warrington, executive director of NJ Transit said last week in announcing the awarding of the contract.

Besides the longer and wider high-level platforms that will accommodate longer trains, the project also includes increased canopy and windscreen coverage, climate-controlled waiting shelter, and an expanded and refurbished station building. The building will get new staircases, a renovated pedestrian tunnel, new pedestrian connections from Route 27 and a variety of new customer amenities.

“These improvements will ensure that the station remains an efficient and modern gateway for commuters,” says state transportation commissioner and NJ Transit board chairman Kris Kolluri. “The project will enable the station to serve more riders in the future to support other capacity expansion projects.”

“NJ Transit’s commitment to invest millions of dollars to upgrade the station and infrastructure is good news for township residents and area visitors,” says Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac. “The renovations will certainly benefit residents and commuters moving through Woodbridge via the Metropark station.”

Built in 1971 at a total cost of $2.6 million, the station began serving commuters and interstate passengers in early 1972. The name Metropark was derived from Amtrak’s Metroliner service – one of the initial purposes of the facility was to provide a midway Metroliner stop between Newark Penn Station and the NJ Transit station in New Brunswick.

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