New Jersey Transit trustees at a board meeting on Wednesday approved authorizing the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to seek the issuance of $500 million in bonds to buy trains and buses. The bonds should expire in 28 years.
Rider advocacy organization Lackawanna Coalition communications director Sally Jane Gellert voiced her concerns regarding the $500 million in bonds.
“We would like to know if you have done a comparison of interest payments versus savings from reduced maintenance and operating costs,” Gellert said. “NJT does have a high breakdown rate, but would a comprehensive repair/rebuild program yield savings? The state has an ambitious goal for electrification of the transportation sector; does this equipment purchase enable or delay full electrification?”
NJ Transit President Kevin Corbett said an increase in the gas tax is backing for the bond.
The trustees also approved an authorization to make compensatory payments to those who own properties near the Portal North Bridge in relation to paying to replace the bridge. NJ Transit is attempting to acquire properties in accordance with the Eminent Domain Act of 1971 and starting condemnation proceedings where necessary.
The Portal North Bridge is part of a $14 billion Gateway Development Corp. project to replace two train tunnels in the Hudson River connecting New Jersey and New York City. A separate component is the existing Portal North Bridge, which opens to ships and becomes stuck, delaying trains from Washington, D.C., to Boston.
Corbett also gave updates on capital projects.
“Last month we received the last major environmental permit needed to begin construction at the Delco Lead portion of the facility,” Corbett said. “As part of this project, Amtrak began demolition work at County Yard, which will facilitate future construction work to improve and expand the yard. We are excited to be progressing so rapidly and successfully on this project, which will help us protect NJ Transit rail cars; allow us to inspect and service trains at a new, centrally located service and inspection facility and quickly return them to service.”
The board approved entering into a contract with Stantec Consulting Services of Rochelle Park to provide supplemental final engineering design services and construction assistance for the Perth Amboy Station Accessibility Improvement project in an amount not to exceed $2.7 million for a total contract amount of $5.9 million. This project will add elevators to this station.
Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz thanked the board for supporting the Perth Amboy rail station accessibility project.