The Bergen County Administration along with local legislators are working with NJ Transit to develop a passenger rail lineon the East Corridor of Bergen County. I am in full support of this initiative which will bring near immediate service to the towns of Tenafly, Englewood, Leonia, and Palisades Park and surrounding towns in District 37. This rail line will connect them with Ferries at Weehawken and the Hudson/Bergen Line in Hoboken. This plan is only the first step in a comprehensive plan that will provide one seat transportation into NYC (via the arc), and will be able to make connections to other parts on New Jersey within the next 15 years. The current plan utilizes existing freight lines and Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) technology.
There are those who favor “light rail”, the electric trains which require new rail lines to be built. This idea would cost over a billion dollars and could not be implemented for another 10 years. In my nearly 40 years in the State Legislature I have seen Bergen County miss out on too many opportunities to provide public transportation. There is fierce competition for Federal transportation funds from dozens of districts seeking to reduce automobile traffic, increase mobility between towns and to New York City, and bring commerce and economic development.
Those who call for further study of an “electric option” would waste this opportunity for an unrealistic possibility in the future. I say to them, “Perfection is the enemy of the Good”. Although electric “light rail” has merit, Bergen County does not have the population density to support the frequency of light rail. Light Rail does not have the capability to connect with other rail lines. Nor do we have the time or money to support further investigation into an area which has been studied since I began my career nearly 40 years ago.
Time can not be wasted. At this moment, we citizens of Bergen County have the commitment of the NJ Transit Authority, our County Executive and Freeholders, State Senators, and Congressional Representatives. The time is now to move forward. Our quality of life is at stake, and our economic development is at stake. The future does not happen by studies, we make the future happen by acting, one step at a time.
The stakes are enormous for Bergen County area to take advantage of these rails and for competing areas of New Jersey that also seek the economic benefits that would follow a passenger rail system. We are being lobbied by representatives that seek to stall our rail system by the appearance of a lack of consensus. We must not naively accept impractical reasons for delaying action here as when will be acting against our future economic development.
Senator Baer is in the 37th Legislative District which consists of Bergenfield Borough, Bogota Borough, Englewood City, Englewood Cliffs Borough, Hackensack City, Leonia Borough, Maywood Borough, Palisades Park Borough, Ridgefield Park, Rochelle Park Township, Teaneck Township, Tenafly Borough.