The Mayors’ Hudson/Bergen Light Rail Commission is comprised of all of the mayors from Hudson and Bergen counties representing towns along the rail line and its proposed northward extension, including Englewood, Jersey City, Palisades Park, Fairview, West New York, Weehawken, Leonia, Ridgefield, North Bergen, Union City, Hoboken, and Bayonne.
The commission unifies the municipalities along the HBLR line so they “speak with one voice.” It will coordinate ground-up planning and consultation between the local government entities within each municipality, both counties, and amongst stakeholders, while providing a direct conduit to NJ Transit, the lead agency in the project.
Development, ‘smart growth’ are the goals
The move comes on the heels of Englewood’s recent adoption of a comprehensive new master plan that 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.
“Hudson and Bergen counties are fully developed and host mature economies,” said Mayor Huttle. “For the most part, it’s not feasible to build new roads, bridges or tunnels for people to get to work between Hudson, Bergen and New York City. 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.”
Said Mayor Fulop, “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.
“Providing more northern New Jersey residents access into Jersey City and Hudson County is good for development, job growth and small business alike. This commission will allow mayors along the route to have a more active role in this important transit system and its future growth.”
The restoration of passenger rail service to the Northern Branch of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Line has been under discussion for years. Huttle noted that Englewood has been working extensively with NJ Transit in recent years to hone the project to adequately meet the needs of the eastern Bergen County region it is intended to serve.
“The light rail service, if accomplished properly, will transform the region for the better, easing congestion, raising property values and providing myriad other benefits,” added Huttle. “A coordination of planning and consultation between local government entities will ensure the light rail service will be the best it can be.”
The Mayors Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Commission will serve as a semi-permanent body to fulfill the needs of the line communities, individually and collectively, through the following primary objectives:
• Connection 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;
• Creation of jobs and development along the line connecting all residents living in Bergen County to Hudson County and NYC; and
• Focus on economic growth.