Light Rail Extension to Support TOD in Jersey City
May 13th, 2011 by Jay Corbalis
At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, the NJ Transit Board of Directors approved a plan to extend the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line across Route 440 in Jersey City to the city’s western waterfront along the Hackensack River. The project, which would extend the line to a new station .7 miles past its current terminus at the West Side Avenue Station, is largely intended to service the proposed Bayfront Redevelopment, a massive mixed-use development project on an industrial site owned by Honeywell International. The light rail extension is estimated to cost $171.6 million.
Jersey City is already a national leader in transit-oriented development (as illustrated in an awesome video by the folks at Streetfilms), and the proposed Bayfront Redevelopment will only add to the city’s reputation. The project includes 8,100 housing units and 1.8 million square feet of office and retail space, as well as a waterfront greenway, park space and plazas, all tied together with a new street grid on the 100-acre site. As Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healey put it, “[This project] will further our administration’s goal of creating Smart Growth urban communities …”
That the HBLR line is being used to spur major new development is nothing new. Indeed, much of the office and residential high-rises that have transformedNew Jersey’s “Gold Coast” in recent decades have been in direct response to the area’s excellent transit connections. The difference here is the deliberate, collaborative approach taken to facilitate this type of sustainable development on a large scale. The site’s owner, Honeywell International, along with Jersey City and NJ Transit, all have something to gain by seeing the site redeveloped, and all play a role in enabling that to happen. This collaborative, public/private approach to transit-oriented development can serve as a model for other areas of the state.