In New Brunswick, upgrade to train station is about more than just improved customer experience

Modernizing station (new platform, lights, HVAC) will help better connect city’s growing attributes to those up and down Northeast Corridor

State, county and local officials didn’t come to announce the $49 million upgrade that’s coming to the train station in New Brunswick — that money was appropriated during the budget season and is part of $814 million in infrastructure investments.

Friday’s event was held to discuss the impact these upgrades could have on the city and its growing number of key assets.

New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill said the investment at the station will increase the city’s brand — and its connection to key properties that are being built.

“These upgrades being announced today will ensure that New Brunswick will continue to be recognized as a critical component in statewide and regional transportation and will serve as the perfect complement to our world-class facilities like the Jack and Cheryl Morris Cancer Pavilion and the New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub,” he said.

Chris Paladino, president of the New Brunswick Development Corp., said the upgraded station will impact connectivity up and down the line.

“Modernization of the New Brunswick Train Station will energize the transformative development taking place directly adjacent to the Northeast Corridor, making the New Jersey Innovation Hub and Rutgers Cancer Institute accessible to researchers, patients, employees and visitors from Boston to Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Plans for the station include extending and replacing passenger platforms, rehabilitating escalators and elevators, installing energy-efficient lighting and upgrading heating and air conditioning systems, in addition to other internal and external projects.

This significant investment in local economic development and passenger experience is just one piece of the $814 million the Fiscal Year 2023 budget agreement is dedicating to rail station improvements through the Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund.

The Middlesex County Improvement Authority will project manage the renovations of the station on behalf of the county and New Jersey Transit, inclusive of design and construction.

NJ Transit will provide technical assistance, procure and manage an engineering and design firm, retain construction services and have review and approval rights throughout the project. MCIA is currently in the process of preparing the scope for the project, which will focus on enhancements to the station and customer experience.

Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald Rios said the county is ready and eager to get started.

“I am excited to share that the improvements to the station, from design to construction, will be a project managed by the county through the Middlesex County Improvement Authority,” he said. “This is a familiar role for the county, as it is the same process currently taking place with the North Brunswick Train Station a few miles down the track.

“The announcement that the MCIA will play a similar role for the station in New Brunswick is a testament to the constructive collaboration between NJ Transit and the MCIA. This is all made possible due to our partners at the state, in particular Gov. (Phil) Murphy, Speaker Craig Coughlin and the 17th Legislative District, through the allocation of $49 million for these renovations.”

Murphy said the upgrades will pay off in many ways.

“Our fiscally responsible and forward-looking investments will further solidify the city’s reputation as a pivotal crossroads, not just as a geographic center point in the heart of New Jersey, but as a place where residents, students, medical professionals and internationally renowned companies continue to congregate for generations to come,” he said.

“Officials at all levels of New Jersey government are working in lockstep to help the Hub City achieve its full potential as an economic powerhouse and destination. Just as importantly, our efforts are expanding access to affordable and attractive public transportation alternatives for all New Jerseyans, regardless of income or ZIP code.”