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Sweeney, Weinberg, Sarlo & Gordon Say Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Extension Will Be Part of New TTF Plan

Hackensack – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senator Paul Sarlo and Senator Bob Gordon said today that the long-sought extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will be completed now that the state’s Transportation Trust Fund has been renewed with dedicated, long-term funding.

“Now that we have long-term funding secured for the state’s Transportation Trust Fund the extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will finally get done,” said Senator Sweeney. “This is one of the most important mass transit projects in New Jersey that will serve a critical transportation need in the region. The wait has been long enough to get this done.”

Joining the legislators in support were transportation expert Marty Robbins, Janna Chernetz of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and local officials.

“The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail is one of the biggest misnomers in New Jersey. Right now, Bergen County is not actually served by the current service because the rail line ends in Hudson County. The extension into Bergen County will serve communities up and down the line and the nearby towns,” said Senator Weinberg. “This project is significant for our region and will create economic benefits far beyond the amount invested.”

The Northern Branch Extension would bring light rail to Bergen County for the first time. The project is an eight-mile extension of the existing, well-used light rail line from its existing Tonnelle Avenue terminus in Jersey City to Englewood. The extension would provide high-quality, light rail service to augment commuting options for a densely-populated corridor in eastern Bergen County, reducing bus and auto congestion on area roads and at the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel.

“Investing in a world-class transportation infrastructure is one of the best ways to provide an immediate boost to the economy and to support long-term growth and opportunity,” said Senator Sarlo, a prime sponsor of the TTF legislation. “The Hudson-Bergen rail line will provide economic benefits for Bergen County and the entire North Jersey region.”

Earlier this month, the Legislature and the governor approved a plan to renew the Transportation Trust Fund, providing the vital resources to invest $2 billion a year for eight years in the state’s infrastructure, the most significant investment in the TTF since it was created.

New Jersey Transit’s Environmental Impact Statement estimates ridership at 20,000 trips per day.

“We all agree that we need a first-class transportation system and the renewal of the TTF is a milestone achievement that will advance that effort,” said Senator Gordon. “The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail is a project that alone will improve our resident’s daily lives, lead to job creation and increased property values, but is also a vital link to the overall transportation network that is critical to our region’s success.”

The extension of the light rail would enable commuters to travel directly to jobs on the burgeoning Hudson River waterfront, catch PATH connections to midtown and lower Manhattan, and board ferries to Manhattan in Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City.

The line currently stops at Tonnelle Ave. in Jersey City, and the new terminal would be at Englewood Hospital in Bergen County.

The project is estimated to cost between $800 million and $1 billion, with federal funding helping to pay for a substantial portion. The investment could help generate up to $3 billion in economic activity.

The TTF plan effectively doubles state aid to counties and municipalities to $400 million for local roadway and bridge repairs and includes a $250 million Transportation Infrastructure Bank to lower borrowing costs for local government, Senator Sarlo noted, which will help hold down property taxes.