Can equitable development come to the proposed nine-mile Hudson-Bergen Light Rail? We may soon find out.
On Tuesday, New Jersey Transit announced it has been awarded a $592,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration to study equitable transit-oriented development along the proposed extension into Bergen County.
The comprehensive plan will build on efforts to establish neighborhoods and employment centers along the corridor and provide a framework for coordinated actions, creating a blueprint for success for all stakeholders.
The extension of the HBLR into Bergen County, known as the Northern Branch, will further NJ Transit’s 10-year strategic plan goals of powering a stronger and fairer economy and promoting a more sustainable future, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration said.
“Transit-oriented development helps to unlock the full range of benefits that new mass transit corridors can provide,” Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.
“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.”
State Sen. Gordon Johnson (D-Teaneck) agreed.
“The extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail would be an essential asset to decrease congestion and traffic, allowing residents who live in the area to have a better quality of life,” he said. “As we continue to develop new and innovative modes of transportation, it is important that we also consider how we can make our preexisting infrastructure more equitable and accessible for everyone. I am looking forward to seeing how this grant will help enrich and improve the lives of Bergen County residents.”
The Northern Branch extension is a proposed nine-mile route through eastern Bergen County from the current terminus of Tonnelle Avenue up to Englewood Hospital, with seven proposed station stops. The project, currently in the design phase, will decrease roadway congestion and improve overall mobility in the region.
The TOD study will assemble analysis and opportunities in a comprehensive manner that will provide holistic solutions for the entire corridor located through portions of North Bergen, Fairview, Ridgefield, Englewood, Leonia and Palisades Park, and pinpoint more customized solutions tailored to the unique character, constraints and needs of specific communities.
The plan will engage local communities, governments and regional and state agencies in the many facets of transit-oriented development in crafting a collective vision for the corridor. The study also will contain robust community engagement through outreach to members of the public and other stakeholders.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said 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.
“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,” he said. “Since taking office, I have been a vocal advocate for this project and I thank Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti and the New Jersey congressional delegation for their continued commitment to make the light rail a reality in Bergen County.”