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Bergen-Hudson mayors unite to extend light rail line

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A group of Bergen and Hudson county mayors have teamed up to pursue a plan to extend the long-awaited northern portion of a light rail line through Bergen County.

The Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission will be co-chaired by Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle III and Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop.

It includes all of the mayors from Hudson and Bergen counties representing towns along the rail line and its proposed extension ( see list below ).

The Commission will be a “single-focused entity” that will “unify each of the independent municipalities of the line together and speak with one voice,” Huttle said this morning.

It will also give local officials and residents “a direct conduit” to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project, he said.

NJ Transit has proposed stations at 91st Street in North Bergen, in Ridgefield, Palisades Park and Leonia, and on in Englewood on Route 4, at Englewood Town Center and at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, 12 miles from the current terminus at Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen.

The projected cost: $900 million.

“It’s not feasible to build new roads, bridges or tunnels for people to get to work between Hudson, Bergen and New York City,” Huttle said. “New Jersey is still struggling to rebound from the recession and lags behind New York and Pennsylvania in job growth. We need improvements in our transportation infrastructure to grow and create jobs in New Jersey and improve the quality of life for area residents.

“Light rail will do just that.”

It’s particularly vital to Huttle, following Englewood’s recent adoption of a comprehensive new master plan that he said “places a high priority on extending the light rail line through Bergen County and ending in Englewood in order to foster economic development and smart growth in one of the most densely- populated areas of the state.”

He suggested looking no further than how the light rail has helped stimulate development in Jersey City.

“We have seen the success the Light Rail has had in stimulating residential and commercial development in Jersey City and Hudson County, and know that a full expansion into Bergen County will only benefit Jersey City and add to commerce in our region,” Fulop said.

“Providing more northern New Jersey residents access into Jersey City and Hudson County is good for development, job growth and small business alike,” Fulop added. “This Commission will allow mayors along the route to have a more active role in this important transit system and its future growth.”

The main objectives of the Mayors Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Commission:

  • Connect of the two largest and most congested counties in New Jersey to promote transportation to and from Englewood to North Bergen, Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne, as well as NYC;
  • Create jobs and development along the rail line;
  • Focus on economic growth.

Besides Huttle and Fulop on the commission:

Leonia Mayor John DeSimone
Palisades Park Mayor James Rotundo
Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez
Fairview Mayor Vincent Bellucci, Jr.
North Bergen Mayor Nicolas Sacco
West New York Mayor Felix Roque
Union City Mayor Brian Stack
Weehawken Mayor Richard F. Turner
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer
Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith

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