In 1997, the last light rail station in Jersey City was finished on West Side Avenue. Since then, the city has added more than 30,000 residents and expanded further and further from the waterfront. Or rather, the Hudson River waterfront. Right now, there is a ton of construction, remediation, planning and developing planned along the Hackensack River on the west edge of the city. Zoned for a minimum of 4,100 new residential units, the Route 440 corridor is looking to have the same access to public transit as the rest of the city.
Jeremy Farrell, the corporate counsel for Jersey City told me, “The city is working hard to activate that area. We want to finish the activation there as it will benefit the city and give more economic status to that waterfront area.”
There are many things going on concurrently along the west side/440 corridor. The former Honeywell chromium area is in the process of being remediated, cleaned up and prepared for multiple uses. In July, the city council voted to give NJCU a 30-year tax abatement that helped usher in beginning construction of what will be their western campus. With the thousands of residential units also coming, there becomes a real need to expand the light rail one-third of a mile longer, to give access to all of the future activities.
Thomas DeGise, Hudson County executive, says, “Right now, we are looking to extend the light rail and have already commissioned a “cost-out” study to see what the potential is. Currently, it looks to be about $200M to add the 440 station. That includes the cost of acquiring the land as well as the building. But there are public grants available for $70M – $80M that will help defer the cost. Honeywell has pledged between $10M and $20M to help build the depot as well.”
If the plans to add the light rail station are successful, the number of residential units that could be built will jump from 4,100 to 8,200. “This would mean more taxes for Jersey City, more sales dollars for Jersey City and would continue to spur development in the area,” DeGise continued.
Right now, anywhere that has a public transportation hub is looking at a lot of economic expansion. There is the Canal Crossings project in Bergen-Lafayette near the Garfield light rail stop. The City Hall annex building is going up at the MLK stop and the Harrison PATH train stop is seeing all sorts of infrastructure being built around it.
“We’re looking at a real public/private partnership with state, municipal, federal and city funds working together to make this a reality,” DeGise concluded.
We all know the 440 corridor area is very difficult to drive around and get access to. And with all of the new construction going on there, it makes sense to get our public transportation system to truly go river-to-river.