N.J. Transit Looks Into Light Rail Extension

NEWARK, N.J. — The N.J. Transit Board of Directors approved a study that explores the feasibility of extending Hudson-Bergen Light Rail service farther west in Jersey City.

The Board approved a $251,000 contract with AKRF, Inc., for consultant services in support of the first phase of an alternatives analysis for the extension of the light rail line.  The line would extend from its current western terminus at West Side Avenue Station across Route 440 to a redevelopment zone along the Hackensack Riverfront.

“Light rail has already proven to support economic development goals, reduce traffic on city streets and increase personal mobility for residents,” said U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J.  “The funding I secured for this study presents an opportunity to link transportation planning with local land use planning, extending these benefits into new neighborhoods.”

A new station would link the Jersey City waterfront and North Hudson to new residential, commercial and retail development the municipality is planning approximately one-half mile west of West Side Avenue Station.

“This study will enable us to examine the potential for improved transit options near the redevelopment and existing residential areas along Route 440,” said Transportation Commissioner and N.J. Transit Board Chairman Stephen Dilts.  “An extension of light rail to this area would both support the development and address traffic congestion along the heavily-used Route 440 and secondary roads.”

The alternatives analysis will mark the first step in the federal environmental process for an extension.  Among the specific items that will be evaluated are potential alignments, station planning, park and ride locations, operational needs, cost estimates and integration with redevelopment.

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail opened in April 2000, connecting 12 stations along the first seven miles of the system—from 34th Street in Bayonne and West Side Avenue to Exchange Place.  Later that year, additional stations were opened at Pavonia/Newport, Harborside Financial Center and Harsimus Cove.

In September 2002, N.J. Transit opened the Hoboken Terminal light rail station, providing intermodal connections to commuter rail, trans-Hudson ferry, PATH and bus service.  The 22nd Street Station in Bayonne opened in November 2003, followed by the expansion of service north to 2nd Street and 9th Street in Hoboken and Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken in September 2004.

N.J. Transit opened its newest stations—Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen and Bergenline Avenue in Union City—in February 2006, which also marked the start of full service to Port Imperial Station in Weehawken. In October 2008, construction began on a one-mile extension from the current southern terminus at 22nd Street to a new 8th Street Station in Bayonne.

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