Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Transportation, speaks during a 2018 press event. — Courtesy: Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office
By Joshua Burd
NJ Transit has secured nearly $600,000 in federal funds to study development prospects along what would be the long-awaited, nine-mile extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.
The agency on Monday announced the $592,000 grant, noting that the analysis would focus on equitable transit-oriented development along a route that would cut through parts of North Bergen and eastern Bergen County, including Fairview, Ridgefield, Englewood, Leonia and Palisades Park. They study would look to compile analysis and opportunities “in a comprehensive manner that will provide holistic solutions for the entire corridor,” in part by engaging residents, governments and regional and state agencies to craft a collective vision for the corridor.
NJ Transit also hopes the Federal Transit Administration grant will allow it to “pinpoint more customized solutions tailored to the unique character, constraints and needs of specific communities.”
“Transit-oriented development helps to unlock the full range of benefits that new mass transit corridors can provide,” said Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation and NJ Transit board chair. “Thank you to the FTA and our congressional delegation for securing this funding to explore how these developments can work in coordination with the proposed HBLR extension, providing a sustainable future for the region.”
Currently in the design phase, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail extension would start at the current terminus of Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen and run northward to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, according to NJ Transit. Plans call for seven proposed station stops, expanding a system whose first phase opened more than two decades ago and serves densely populated neighborhoods as far south as Bayonne.
The so-called Northern Branch would also advance NJ Transit’s 10-Year Strategic Plan goals of promoting a stronger and fairer economy and a more sustainable future, the agency said, while helping establish neighborhoods and employment centers along the corridor.
“Bringing the light rail to the eastern corridor of Bergen County, one of the most densely populated areas in the nation, will be a guaranteed model for successful transit-oriented development,” Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said. “This critical mass transit project will greatly enhance the quality of life for local residents and businesses by alleviating congestion, meeting mass transit demands and improving the environment.”
NJ Transit CEO and President Kevin S. Corbett added that the grant “will support a vital TOD study, enabling NJ Transit to maximize mobility, ridership and economic growth along all nine miles of our proposed Northern Branch project, conservatively estimated to serve more than 5,600 additional HBLR customers each weekday. We thank the FTA and the New Jersey congressional delegation for their continued support of our commitment to sustainability through TOD projects anchored by our transit system.”