- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) - A $55 million overhaul of the Elizabeth rail station would increase capacity at the station and include rider-friendly upgrades such as platforms featuring heated and air-conditioned waiting areas.

State and federal officials unveiled a preliminary design Monday for the more than century-old structure that serves New Jersey’s fourth-largest city. Plans include a street-level ticket office and waiting area with space for vendors as well as additional stairways and elevators.

New Jersey Transit said about 7,500 passenger trips are made each day through the Elizabeth station, making it the 10th-busiest of more than 150 stations in the rail system.

Perhaps as important as the customer amenities, the new station will be able to accommodate 12-car trains instead of the 10-car trains it currently serves.

According to NJ Transit, which is funding the project with contributions from the federal government, Elizabeth is one of several stations being expanded in the next few years to accommodate longer trains. Currently eight stations, including New York Penn Station, have that capacity, NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said.

Work is scheduled to be completed on the project in 2018.

“We want to entice more people to mass transit, we want to take more cars off the streets,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, ranking member of a Senate transportation subcommittee that is working on a new federal funding bill. “Today is a vivid example of what we are going to do in Washington and why it is so important. If you want to move people effectively and efficiently to work, you need a mass transit system that can work effectively.”

The new station also will be designed to conform to Amtrak’s plans to add a fifth track to its Northeast Corridor line.

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