NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - NJ Transit and Amtrak have begun preliminary work on a new railyard that will serve as a safe haven for trains along the Northeast Corridor during severe weather.

The demolition work on what NJ Transit calls the County Yard, located in New Brunswick, began in early November.

The work includes the removal of turnout switch and track, the installation of straight panels, surfacing work, welding and related signal modifications to adjacent track and signal equipment, according to a press release from NJ Transit.

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The removal of the old switches and unused track area will help facilitate NJ Transit future track construction into the new County Yard and related site drainage improvements.

This preliminary work is expected to be completed by March and will not impact rail service.

The expansion of County Yard, which is part of the NJ Transit Resilience Program, will provide additional resilient storage of rail cars in a centrally located area of the state.

The County Yard Improvement Project, along with the Delco Lead Train Safe Haven Storage and Service Restoration Project, will reduce the risk of damage to rail equipment resulting from extreme weather events and provide an inspection facility to bring rail equipment back into service in a short period of time after a weather event.

The eventual improvements include construction of a 4-mile long electrified Delco Lead tracks, an expansion of County Yard for storage, an inspection facility, crew quarters and associated improvements.

“NJ Transit’s relationship with Amtrak is stronger than ever, and our progress at County Yard and the Delco Lead Storage and Inspection Facility demonstrates it,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “We’re excited to be progressing so rapidly and successfully on both of these projects, which will ultimately better protect NJ Transit rail cars, and allow for faster service restorations after extreme weather.”

As TAPinto New Brunswick previously reported, the project got a boast when the New Brunswick City Council in June 2017 approved a resolution authorizing an agreement with NJ Transit.

The resolution gave NJ Transit access to the city’s public works yard.

The County Yard will be able to house 144 train cars or 12 full-length trains, according to a December 2015 report from the agency.

County Yard has for years been an Amtrak-owned facility, which consisted of abandoned railroad tracks, paved lots, a tower and three active tracks capable of storing only four trains, according to project documents.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy damaged more than 300 train cars. That prompted NJ Transit officials to search for more secure storage spaces. They chose the New Brunswick property for its buffer against flooding and close proximity to the Northeast Corridor Line.

County Yard sits next to the railroad’s Jersey Avenue station. During Sandy, some trains were housed in Pennsylvania, which made it difficult to bring those far-off cars back into service.