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Major traffic flow upgrades coming to Meadowlands under American Dream settlement

The American Dream project at the Meadowlands.

The state will take new steps to expand mass transit, widen lanes and control game-day traffic flow around the Meadowlands Sports Complex — much of it at the expense of developer Triple Five — under a new traffic management plan designed to help advance the American Dream Meadowlands project after years of delays.The steps were outlined in an agreement struck this week by the developer and state agencies aimed at easing long-running concerns of the New York Giants and Jets. Prior to a settlement, the NFL franchises had sought to block Triple Five’s plan to expand the dormant Xanadu project, citing fears of gridlock around MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.
The steps detailed in the memorandum include:

  • At Triple Five’s expense, improvements to increase ramp capacity for traffic exiting the sports complex — namely, from northbound West Peripheral Road to Route 120 South and from Route 120 South to Route 3 West;
  • Installing automated traffic counters and message boards with parking instructions, also at the developer’s expense;
  • Closing ramps around the complex on game days to ensure traffic for American Dream does not interfere with lanes dedicated to postgame traffic, also at Triple Five’s expense;
  • Improvements to New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 16W, including toll plaza operations and ramp widening in the southbound direction, at the expense of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority;
  • Operational and physical enhancements — such as longer trains or double-deck cars — at NJ Transit’s rail stop at the sports complex, at the expense of the rail agency;
  • Expanded services for three NJ Transit bus lines servicing the sports complex and the construction of a transit hub at the American Dream site;
  • Detailed parking plans for American Dream and MetLife Stadium, which cover nearly 10,000 spaces.

Details of the traffic plan come days after news of the settlement between the Edmonton, Canada-based developer, which owns the Mall of America in Minnesota, and the Giants and Jets.
The accord capped off a legal and public relations battle of nearly two years in which executives from Triple Five and the Giants and Jets squared off over wildly different estimates of the traffic impact that would come from the expanded retail and entertainment complex.
After years of delays under different developers, the lawsuits had loomed over the unfinished project. The settlement set the stage for Triple Five to move forward with construction, which state officials said could come within months.
As it currently stands, the project site includes an incomplete five-story facility that officials anticipate will be developed into 2.1 million square feet of leasable retail and restaurant space alongside an additional 639,000 square feet of space for an indoor amusement park and a water park.
This week’s settlement comes after more than a year of close calls and moments when it seemed a resolution was near.
Wayne Hasenbalg, president and CEO of the state Sports & Exposition Authority, said he was happy the parties continued to keep the discussions going throughout the process.
“I was hopeful that, at the end of the day, by keeping options open, that we would ultimately resolve this,” he said. “And I think we’ve done it in a way that advances and protects the interests of all the stakeholders involved.”
Hasenbalg said it was too early to say how much the improvements would cost.

Joshua Burd

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