US transportation agency New Jersey (NJ) Transit has awarded the second of three tunnelling contracts for the planned $8.7bn Mass Transit Tunnel, a project that will double the capacity of NJ-New York commuter rail.

The $271.7m contract for a 10,000ft, two-bore tunnel through the Palisades between Tonnelle in North Bergen and Hoboken has been awarded to PTP Constructors, a joint venture of JF Shea Construction and Skanska USA Civil Northeast.

Work is expected to begin in the next few months and finish within three years.

The contract follows the first $583m Manhattan tunnel contract to build a mile-long rail tunnel between NJ and Manhattan and will be followed by the third and final Hudson River segment.

The overall project includes building two new single-track commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River to increase the line’s capacity to 48 trains per hour during peak periods, from 23 trains and is expected to take nearly 22,000 vehicles off the roads daily.