BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. -- A group of high profile Democratic legislators have placed the extension of light rail service from Hudson into Bergen County a priority for a renewed Transportation Trust Fund.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck, and Sen. Paul Sarlo met yesterday with transportation officials and other legislators to strategize for getting light rail on a fast track to completion.
“The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail extension is a crucial mass transit project for New Jersey,” said Sweeney. “We have to make the investments that will get people to and from their jobs in a faster, more efficient way or we will suffocate any chance we have for an economic recovery.”
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco of Paramus, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, both from Englewood, participated, among others.
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. It would provide high-quality, light rail service as an additional option for the densely-populated East Bergen County transportation corridor.
Weinberg said the rail line currently ends in Hudson County, and, “It is time for that to change.”
Investment 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, the Democratic senators said.
Sarlo said the Transportation Trust Fund must also be renewed, to provide the first-class road system drivers deserve.
“Every dollar invested in transportation generates $3.50 in economic benefits,” said Sarlo. “This is an investment in our economy as much as it is an investment in transportation. The state’s infrastructure is in need of repairs and improvements and we can’t afford to let it go neglected for too long.”
The extension of the light rail would enable commuters to travel directly to jobs on the Hudson River waterfront, catch PATH connections to midtown and lower Manhattan, and board ferries to Manhattan in Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City.
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