Bergen, Hudson counties mayors presenting one voice to expand a light rail line

24 April 2014 37 views No Comment

Dear Residents:

Please see article today’s article in the Record entitled: “Bergen, Hudson counties mayors presenting one voice to expand a light rail line”.

I am very pleased that 12 Hudson and Bergen County towns voted unanimously in favor of supporting the light rail extension line to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. This has never happend before.

The light rail extension will generate a massive econimic engine, improving the quality of life, and create jobs for both Hudson and Bergen counties as well as the Metropolitan area.

Bergen, Hudson counties mayors presenting one voice to expand a light rail line

APRIL 24, 2014 LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2014, 12:31 AM
BY STEPHANIE NODA
STAFF WRITER
NORTHERN VALLEY SUBURBANITE

AMY NEWMAN/THE RECORD
Linda A. Mosch, senior director, budget and administration capital planning and programs discussing extending light rail service into Bergen County at a meeting on Monday in Englewood.
New commission seeks to create single voice for lobbying efforts

ENGLEWOOD – A commission of mayors and officials from 12 municipalities near the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail have jointly expressed support toward extension of the line.

Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle III, left, and Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop, right, at the Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission meeting at bergenPAC. Huttle and Fulop are co-chairs of the newly-formed organization that will press extending the line into the region.
The Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission, co-chaired by Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle III and Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop, had its first meeting at bergenPAC on April 21 to discuss the benefits of bringing the light rail to Bergen County.

During the meeting, officials from 12 Hudson and Bergen county towns voted in unanimous support to extend the light rail line to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. Commission members will create “one single voice” by passing resolutions and writing letters of support to state officials.

“This is something that has never happened before,” said Huttle.

Officials supported extending the light rail line saying it would create more jobs, decrease traffic congestion and enhance economic development throughout the region.

Despite its name, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line does not travel through any Bergen County towns. The line terminates on 51st Street in North Bergen. Extending the line to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center would add stops in Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, Route 4 in Englewood, and Englewood Town Center. The state and federal government have not indentified any funding for the project.

The light rail extension will generate a massive economic engine, quality of life, and job creation for the two countries and the metropolitan area, said Huttle.

“Each mayor [from Hudson and Bergen counties] independently echoed the importance of unified support from all levels of government,” said Huttle.

NJ Transit created a draft environmental impact statement in 2012 that examined two alternatives to extend the line to either Tenafly or Route 4 in Englewood. After vehement opposition by Tenafly residents and officials, NJ Transit came up with a third alternative to bring light rail to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. Englewood officials had argued that ending the line at the hospital would allow the light rail to run through the city’s downtown.

NJ Transit is working on a supplemental impact study that reviews extending the line to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, which it hopes to submit to the Federal Transit Association (FTA) in late fall.

The commission, which will meet quarterly, wishes to work with NJ Transit to maintain this timeline.

Public hearings on the project are scheduled to occur at the end of the year, with a final impact study completed in time for summer of 2015, said Huttle.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer commended Huttle for his leadership in creating the commission and looked forward to extending the rail line as a way of expanding transportation options for surrounding communities.

“Living in the most densely populated region of the most densely populated state, the way to solve our transportation challenges is to invest in better public transportation,” said Zimmer in a statement.

Traditionally, light rail provides an economic boost for towns along the line. Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez said the light rail would also benefit commuters to traveling to Hoboken and New York City

“We need to basically impress on our state and federal legislatures that this isn’t just for the towns on the line,” said Suarez. “It’s for the whole region. Light rail will serve as economic engine.”

The light rail project is important to Ridgefield, since there is future redevelopment planned for areas surrounding the line, said Suarez.

West New York Business Administrator Joe DeMarco said that a passenger could travel from Englewood to Hoboken in 33 minutes when the rail is completed.

“My commute from West New York [to Englewood] was equal to that, after being stuck in traffic,” said DeMarco. “I think [light rail] opens up opportunity and benefits from anyone on and near the rail to a great degree.”

Leonia Mayor John DeSimone said light rail is “a good plan for the whole region” that will bring new jobs and economic development.

“It will make a lot of sense for Leonia,” said DeSimone. “It provides a nice mode of transportation up and down Bergen and Hudson counties. I think it will be a boom to towns along the route here.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-9, said mass transportation projects like the northern branch line would “help strengthen New Jersey’s transportation corridors which serve as a lifeline to our region’s commuters.”

“Having the local mayors and elected officials united and active is critical to advancing this important project and I commend them for their dedication,” said Pascrell in a statement. “As a former mayor myself, I am committed to working with federal agencies, New Jersey Transit, and municipal and county officials on behalf of expanding mass transit deeper into the communities of Northern New Jersey.”

Email: noda@northjersey.com

http://www.northjersey.com/news/transportation/united-front-for-light-rail-expansion-1.1001622?page=all

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