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Transportation Projects in New Jersey's Hudson River Waterfront Area

Hudson County New Jersey has some of the highest population densities in the nation. Developments on defunct freight railroad properties along the Hudson River shoreline will push the densities even higher. This area is ripe for further intensification of transit service and usage. In addition, such density provides the potential for nice communities which attract high walking and cycling utilization. Transit projects are in planning and construction phases which will foster those ends. All this potential is being undercut by misguided projects emphasizing automobile use.

The Transit Projects

NJ Transit (NJT) is constructing the Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Line and the Allied Junction Transfer Station.

The light rail line will provide easy north south transit trips for those traveling in the water level corridor from Bayonne to Weehawken and all points in between.

The transfer facility is being built in Secaucus, NJ. Riders will be able to get between the Northeast Corridor and the Main and Bergen County Lines. At this spot, huge buildings will also be erected.

Quashing the Transit Projects

The NJ Department of Transportation hopes to build three new highway projects serving these same exact locations. The roads in question, if built, will negate the transit advances discussed above.

The Waterfront Boulevard, dubbed "the stealth highway" by locals who have fought for years to make NJDOT unveil the secretly planned widening/linking of existing streets into a continuous four lane highway from Bayonne to Edgewater. The activists were finally proven right when the project appeared in the State's study list for the coming year. Ironically, the Governor listed this project as among those "at risk" if New Jerseyans fail to support her 5 cent gas tax hike proposal this year.

The existing portions of the Waterfront Boulevard are in Bayonne, West New York and Edgewater. The segments yet to be constructed are in Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken. I encourage everyone living in these towns to contact their elected officials.

The rhetoric bolstering the "need" for these highways has gone over the edge. Governor Whitman, in her New Jersey First transportation funding plan, called the proposed NJ Turnpike interchange in Secaucus one of the "missing highway links essential to our regional mobility strategy." Calling this entrance/exit a "missing link" is disingenuous. There are no other highways in the area to "link" to. So, exactly what's missing???

Why, the proposed Bergen Arches Highway! The idea is to build a new highway on the abandoned and soon to be abandoned bed of the old Erie Railroad. The alignment runs from the above mentioned Turnpike interchange, through a cut/tunnel in the Palisades and out to the Holland Tunnel.

The need for this new highway is completely specious. There are already three highways linking the New Jersey Turnpike with the Hudson River Waterfront. While this roadway has been on the back burner for several years, it has jumped to the forefront when federal legislators stuck it into the "priority projects" section of TEA-21, the new surface transportation funding law.

Project supporters, who include Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler and Rep. Robert Menendez, contend that the new roads will vastly improve access to Jersey City's and Hoboken's thriving waterfront areas. Yet local streets there are already overburdened.

So, What's the Big Deal?

While the highways will draw some peak time riders away from transit, the main problem stems from siphoning away off peak ridership. Strong off peak ridership is critical to obtaining the good cost recovery ratios and high service frequencies which make transit economical and convenient.

Convenience is the main influence on which mode of transportation people choose. Providing excellent transit service is not enough to reduce the use of automobiles. Push/Pull techniques are needed, working to "push" people out of their cars and "pull" them onto improved mass transit, walking and cycling facilities.

But Why Should I Care About Reducing Motor Vehicle Use?

There's a wide variety of reasons walking, bicycling and public transport should be encouraged rather than driving. Considering the context here, I'll quickly summarize some of the issues. For more information, this subject has been discussed in depth by many books, papers, web sites and news groups.

Taken in total, automobile dependence is a hindrance on the economy, disruptive to the social fabric and an ecological nightmare.

Some Further Information:

In Addition, the Transit Projects Can be Improved

NJT is shooting themselves in the foot by relying on large park and ride lots as the primary means of access to the light rail system. Analysis reveals extending the light rail line to meet potential riders is more cost effective than building park and ride lots.

The light rail system is also designed to serve new developments, while existing residents of the area are being ignored. Greater emphasis needs to be put on bus lanes and traffic management to improve mobility for all of the areas residents.

The Allied Junction Station and Development is off base. A direct connection should have been built rather than a transfer. Also, this location is in the middle of nowhere, so erecting a huge building complex is inappropriate. There are plenty of more suitable places in NJ for such major development.

Who Should I Contact About This?

Christine Whitman
Governor
The State of New Jersey
PO BOX 001
Trenton NJ 08625
Phone: 609-777-2600
Phone: 609-292-6000
Fax: 609-292-3454
Web Site: http://www.state.nj.us/
Contact the Governor via the Web: http://www.state.nj.us/governor/contact.htm

Four years. The governor may not serve more than two successive terms. The current governor's term ends January 2002.

Joel S. Weiner
Executive Director
North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority
One Newark Center 17 Floor
Newark NJ 07102
Phone: 973-639-8400
Fax: 973-639-1953

Paul C. Sauerland
Chair
North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority
Freeholder
Administration Building
Flemington NJ 08822
Phone: 908-788-1102
Hunterdon County: http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/

Web Site: http://njtpa.njit.edu/
Board of Trustees

Shirley DeLibero
Executive Director
New Jersey Transit
1 Penn Pz E
Newark NJ 07103-2246
Phone: 201-491-7132
Web Site: http://www.njtransit.state.nj.us/
Email to Customer Service: njt_customer_svc@njtransit.state.nj.us

John J. Haley Jr.
Commissioner
New Jersey Department of Transportation
PO Box 600
Trenton NJ 08625
Phone: 609-530-2000
Web Site: http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/
Email the Correspondence Unit: correspondenceunit@dot.state.nj.us


New Jersey Division Office
Federal Highway Administration
840 Bear Tavern Road, Suite 310
West Trenton NJ 08628-1019
Phone: 609-637-4200


Federal Transit Administration
United States Department of Transportation
26 Federal Plaza Suite 2940
New York NY 10278-0194
Phone: 212-264-8162
Fax: 212-264-8973

Robert C. Shinn, Jr.
Commissioner
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
401 East State Street
Trenton NJ 08625
Phone: 609-292-2885
Fax: 609-292-7695
Email: rshinn@dep.state.nj.us
Web Site: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/

Susan Lawson
Project Manager
Bureau of Coastal Regulation
Land Use Regulation Program
NJ Deptartment of Environmental Protection
Phone: 609-984-0288
Email: slawson@dep.state.nj.us

Jeanne M. Fox
Director
Region 2
United States Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway 26th Floor
New York NY 10007-1866
Phone: 212-637-5000
Fax: 212-637-3526
Region 2's Web Site: http://www.epa.gov/Region2/

 


New Jersey Assembly and Senate

Senate: Four years except the term following each census is two years. The present terms end January 2002.

Assembly: Two years. The present members' terms end January 2002.

District 31

 

District 32

 

District 33

 

Other Districts

If you live in other areas of the state, you can use this map to determine who your representatives are.

 


United States Congress

 


Hudson County

 


Municipal Officials


For more information about elected officials and your government, conatact:

League of Women Voters of New Jersey
204 West State Street
Trenton NJ 08608
Phone: 609-394-3303
Fax: 609-599-3993
Web Site: http://www.lwvnj.org/

 


Some of this text was lifted from "New Traffic Funnels for North Jersey Cities", Mobilizing the Region, Number 178, 26 June 1998, Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

 


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Last updated: 4 April 1999