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NEWARK-New Jersey Transit has named a joint venture of Parsons Brinckerhoff, STV Group and DMJM Harris, collectively known as THE Partnership, to draft preliminary designs for the $7.2-billion Trans-Hudson Commuter Rail Tunnel Project, or THE Tunnel.

The current plans call for two side-by-side, single-track tunnels of 4.1 miles in length, doubling existing train capacity. An expanded rail station would connect to the existing Penn Station in Manhattan.

The new tunnel hopes to alleviate a bottleneck that passenger trains have running under the single 100-year-old tunnel connecting New Jersey Transit trains and Manhattan. The bottleneck is at its worst during rush hour and other peak-periods, affecting potential growth for both New Jersey and New York.

PB is the biggest of the three firms in the joint venture. All three have done work in designed transportation systems.

In July the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey authorized $1 billion for work on THE Tunnel. Construction for THE Tunnel is scheduled to start in 2009, with a 2016 completion date.

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