Northern Branch Light Rail
In case you missed it, I have provided a link here to an article published in the Bergen Record regarding the proposed expansion of the Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Line on the Northern Branch and terminating in Englewood at the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.
Englewood had been continuously involved in the planning of this new option since 2012 and earlier when the City together with the Englewood Economic Development Corporation, as coordinated by the Mayor’s office, submitted a comment to the DEIS version under review at that time. Those comments formed the basis of many of the changes now being made. Englewood has and continues to consult with NJ Transit as the project moves forward.
I have also attached a map of the newly proposed Northern Branch Expanded Rail Line for your reference. Please stay tuned for further details and developments on this exciting new project.
Mayor Frank Huttle
Please click here for the map of the proposed Northern Branch line nbcorridormap
I have pasted an Opinion Editorial piece written by myself and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop expressing our opinion that the time to bring Passenger Service back to the Northern Branch of the Hudson/Bergen Light Rail is now.
As you may know, the restoration of Passenger Rail Service has been discussed for over a decade. Englewood has been actively working on not only making this project shovel ready but also the best it can be. That is why Mayor Fulop and I founded the Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission which will be a single focused entity that will unify each of the independent municipalities of the line together and speak with one voice. It will coordinate ground-up planning and consultation between the local government entities within each municipality, both counties and amongst stakeholders while providing a direct conduit to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project.
I encourage you to read the piece and also to stay tuned for more developments.
Mayor Frank Huttle
Opinion: Why we need to act on Hudson-Bergen light rail now
MARCH 24, 2014, 4:35 PM
BY STEVEN FULOP AND FRANK HUTTLE III
Steven Fulop is mayor of Jersey City and Frank Huttle III is mayor of Englewood. Both are Democrats.
ANYONE who lives in northern New Jersey knows that commuting – by car, bus or rail — is a universally unpleasant topic. While it is central to our daily lives, the everyday traffic jams and crowded trains frequently leave us in the breakdown lane.
This shouldn’t be the case, especially when considering the high cost of living in Bergen and Hudson counties.
We need a transportation system that meets the needs of our communities while at the same time improving our regional economy. Moving forward with plans for the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line into Bergen County should be an immediate priority for Governor Christie and the State legislature.
NJ Transit began operating the first segment of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail — currently only in Hudson County — in Jersey City in 2000 and expanded the system to 21 miles over the next 11 years serving approximately 44,000 weekday passengers. But it has yet to become what planners originally envisioned, which is a regional transportation network connecting two of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey – Bergen and Hudson – to one another and to New York City.
The long-talked about light rail expansion would ease traffic congestion for commuters, create thousands of jobs and spur added economic development in both counties. Since there is no rail option in eastern Bergen, new investment in transportation should be in the form of public transit, which is why the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen line makes so much sense.
Studies show that federal investment in transit will create jobs and boost the economy. A 2009 study by the American Public Transportation Association found that for each billion spent on public transit, as many as 41,000 jobs are created. This same investment in public transit would also generate as much as $3.8 billion annually in business sales further enhancing the economy.
This expansion will help many Bergen residents. In fact, unique to our area, commuters of all income levels use mass transit. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in most major American cities there is a huge gap between the median income of residents and ridership on public transit. Not so in New York City and northern New Jersey, where the median income essentially matches the average income of the mass transit rider.
More efficient workers
In addition, by improving our transportation network, less time is spent commuting, making workers more efficient. Saving just 15 minutes on employees’ commutes equates to a 12 percent increase in productivity in their 40 hour work weeks.
To help advance this expansion, we have formed a mayors’ commission representing all 12 municipalities with present and future Hudson-Bergen Light Rail service to provide direct dialogue to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project. We fully intend to show the value in beginning to build the line into Bergen County.
Funded with a combination of state and federal dollars, the final cost of the Hudson portion of the project was approximately $2.2 billion and was one of the largest public works projects ever in New Jersey. It would only cost half of that amount – approximately $900 million – to expand the line into Bergen County, increase the volume of riders and improve our transportation network.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson, recently testified before the State Senate Transportation Committee’s hearing on the extension of the line, and advocated for the use of the federal New Starts program, which can provide up to a 50:50 match with state funding. Pascrell noted “it is critical that planning be expedited — every day we wait is another day for other projects across the nation to jump ahead of New Jersey in the federal queue.”
Role for private sector
We agree. We also believe there is a role for the private sector to play in supporting the line. In Jersey City, for instance, developers are paying the nearly $12 million cost of a new station because of the importance the new stop means to their projects. In Englewood, the city has partnered with NJ Transit and Englewood Hospital to build an End of the Line parking lot on the hospital’s land. Partnerships with the private sector should be pursued at other locations in Bergen County where the rail line will enhance the value of adjacent properties, spurring new development.
It’s time to stop hoping and start acting to make the Bergen part of the Hudson-Bergen line a reality. There are federal and private dollars to pay for a substantial portion of the project. Governor Christie needs to show his support and call for this line as well.
I have pasted below a Press Release announcing the Formation of the Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission to be co-chaired by myself and Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City.
Please stay tuned for more news on this exciting development.
Mayor Frank Huttle
MAYOR HUTTLE ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF MAYORS COMMISSION TO FINALLY MAKE LIGHT RAIL A REALITY FOR BERGEN COUNTY
Bi-County Commission will be Co-Chaired by Huttle and Jersey City Mayor Fulop
ENGLEWOOD – Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle III today announced the formation of a mayors’ commission to spearhead an ambitious plan to extend the long-awaited northern portion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Line through Bergen County.
The Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission will be co-chaired by Huttle and Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop and is comprised of all of the mayors from Hudson and Bergen counties representing towns along the rail line and its proposed extension, as follows:
Mayor Frank Huttle III of Englewood
Mayor Steven M. Fulop of Jersey City
Mayor James Rotundo of Palisades Park
Mayor Anthony Suarez of Ridgefield
Mayor Vincent Bellucci, Jr. of Fairview
Mayor Nicolas Sacco of North Bergen
Mayor Felix Roque of West New York
Mayor Brian Stack of Union City
Mayor Richard F. Turner of Weehawken
Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken
Mayor John DeSimone of Leonia
Mayor Mark Smith of Bayonne
The Commission will be a single focused entity which will unify each of the independent municipalities of the line together and speak with one voice. It will coordinate ground-up planning and consultation between the local government entities within each municipality, both counties and amongst stakeholders while providing a direct conduit to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project.
The move comes on the heels of the city’s recent adoption of a comprehensive new master plan that places a high priority on extending the light rail line through Bergen County and ending in Englewood in order to foster economic development and smart growth in one of the most densely-populated areas of the state.
“Hudson and Bergen counties are fully developed and host mature economies,” said Mayor Huttle. “For the most part, it’s not feasible to build new roads, bridges or tunnels for people to get to work between Hudson, Bergen and New York City. New Jersey is still struggling to rebound from the recession and lags behind New York and Pennsylvania in job growth. We need improvements in our transportation infrastructure to grow and create jobs in New Jersey and improve the quality of life for area residents. Light rail will do just that.”
“We have seen the success the Light Rail has had in stimulating residential and commercial development in Jersey City and Hudson County, and know that a full expansion into Bergen County will only benefit Jersey City and add to commerce in our region,” said Mayor Fulop. “Providing more northern New Jersey residents access into Jersey City and Hudson County is good for development, job growth and small business alike. This Commission will allow mayors along the route to have a more active role in this important transit system and its future growth.”
The restoration of passenger rail service to the Northern Branch of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Line has been under discussion for years. Huttle noted that Englewood has been working extensively with NJ Transit in recent years to hone the project to adequately meet the needs of the eastern Bergen County region it is intended to serve.
Chief among Englewood’s concerns in a Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) created by NJ Transit were a potential loss of roughly 128 on-street parking spots in the city’s central business district and the exclusion of a stop at Englewood Medical Center.
During the official comment period on the DEIS, Englewood proposed in a letter that the last stop on the line be Englewood Hospital and Medical Center and that there be two other stops in the city at Englewood Town Center and Route 4.
NJ Transit has been receptive to Englewood’s concerns and not only agreed to restore the parking spaces, but under the DEIS the transit agency finally approved last May, proposed stations now include: 91st Street in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, Englewood Route 4, Englewood Town Center and Englewood Hospital.
“The light rail service, if accomplished properly, will transform the region for the better, easing congestion, raising property values and providing myriad other benefits,” added Huttle. “A coordination of planning and consultation between local government entities will ensure the light rail service will be the best it can be.”
To this end, Englewood has already begun the process of gathering the municipalities of the light rail service line in a collaborative group that will not only coordinate individual municipal planning but will also serve as a repository of institutional knowledge over what will certainly be a long planning and build process.
The Mayors Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Commission will serve as a semi-permanent body to fulfill the needs of the line communities, individually and collectively, through the following primary objectives:
1. Connection of the two largest and most congested counties in New Jersey to promote transportation to and from Englewood to North Bergen, Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne, as well as NYC;
2. Creation of jobs and development along the line connecting all residents living in Bergen County to Hudson County and NYC; and
3. Focus on economic growth.
The Commission is timely formed because of the imminent finalization by NJTransit of the DEIS and Supplemental DEIS which should be completed by the Summer of 2015.
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