Construction has begun on a new 2.5-mile rail link that will connect the sports complex with New York's Penn Station. The line will also provide connections to the Hoboken and Secaucus Junction train sections, therefore ensuring train service to the Meadowlands from all NJ Transit lines statewide.
The rail spur, part of the Pascack Valley line, will start for New Jersey riders in Hoboken and pick up passengers transferring from other train lines in Secaucus before arriving at the Meadowlands. Riders will then exit trains at a new station located about one hundred feet from the entrance to the new $1 billion football stadium that will be jointly financed by the New York Jets and the New York Giants that is to open for the 2010 season. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is funding the $150 rail expansion.
"Long overdue" Train service to the Meadowlands was envisioned as early as the mid-1970's, when the sports complex, located in East Rutherford, was constructed. However, plans that were at least 20 years in the making were never executed until the completion of the Secaucus Junction train station made the project more viable in local planners' minds.
One aspect that will be a strong selling point to anyone who has suffered through frustrating pre-game and post-game Meadowlands traffic is speed. A ride to the new 82,500-seat stadium will take only twelve minutes from Secaucus. Fans traveling from New York would change trains in Secaucus for a 28-minute ride, including the transfer.
Approximately 90 percent of riders are expected to transfer at the Secaucus Junction station. The new rail line will be able to transport up to 7,000 people an hour before an event and up to 12,000 people an hour after an event. The Port Authority expects the line to be used by around 8,000 to 10,000 fans per game. Such statistics give credence to the words of George Warrington, executive director of New Jersey Transit, when he announced the plan.
"It's long overdue," he said.
Residents react Although the rail link was planned and hoped for by many for decades, not all Secaucus residents are pleased about its impending construction.
Frank McCormick Sr. is a long time Secaucus resident that has season tickets to the New Jersey Devils hockey team. He wondered how the train station could happen now. "Where are they getting the money?" McCormick said. "The state is bankrupt. It's all hot air." Instead, McCormick linked the rail link to another Meadowlands construction project. "They are trying to build up Xanadu," he said, referring to the troubled entertainment complex being built next to the sports complex that is experiencing both construction delays and financial woes. "All they are trying to do is use more state money to cover up their mistakes."
Mauro DeGennaro is another town resident that has season tickets to the New York Jets, an additional sports franchise that plays its games in the Meadowlands. He had a different view of the new rail link project.
"I would think that the rail link would help the traffic situation in some way," he said. "Right now the best way out there is still by car. I live only about five minutes away from the stadium and I like to get there early on game day. However, it takes me about 45 minutes to get home. Once I got caught in New York Giants game traffic when I went down Route 3 to get gardening supplies and it was even worse. I think a rail link would help a lot."