Gov. Phil Murphy and local officials from Jersey City are pushing ahead with an expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and adjacent mixed-use development, a project proponents say could spur investment in often-overlooked neighborhoods of the state’s second-largest city.
Known as the “440 connection,” the new plans call for a 3,200-foot-extension of the light rail from its current terminus at West Side Avenue to a new terminal alongside the heavily traveled Route 440, along the Hackensack River waterfront. The proposal also calls for a mixed-use development known as “Bayfront,” which will include 8,000 residential units built on land owned by Jersey City and Honeywell International, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said during a March 3 news conference at the site of the new station.
A bridge over Route 440 would connect the two developments. And with the light rail starting at Bayonne and snaking through downtown Jersey City, the single line would connect the Hackensack and Hudson River.
State and local officials estimate that the proposal will cost $220 million, though they have yet to come up with most of the funding.
The first stage of construction started in December and will run through April, said Nancy Snyder, a spokesperson for NJ Transit. That leg of construction has been financed through the Transportation Trust Fund, a pot of money earmarked for local infrastructure and transit projects.
“Jersey City and Hudson County have been known over the last couple decades for their beautiful waterfronts and all of the development that has gone on,” Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said. “Now we’re getting to the other side of town.”
Officials have been eyeing potential developments along the Hackensack River side of Jersey City for decades. The area shares a large body of water with Newark. Proposals for such an extension have been floating around since 2009.
“When this story started, this was mostly burning fields with not a lot of development here,” Fulop said Tuesday.