Saturday, December 19, 2009

Heavy Opposition To Light Rail In Northern New Jersey

Should it surprise anyone that the locals in Northern New Jersey who complain about car traffic would find reason to oppose the light rail being proposed as an extension to the Hudson Bergen Light Rail system?
Now an $800 million light-rail line that would serve 24,000 daily commuters threatens to divide several North Jersey communities, residents say, and destroy their sense of suburbia.

“People are concerned,” said Michael Wildes, mayor of Englewood. “This really may not serve the interests of the community.”

When the Northern Branch line is completed in 2015, local officials and residents say, it will bring a loud, urban feel that won’t benefit their bucolic communities.

Their chief complaints:

* Horns and engine sounds will disturb their communities and degrade their neighborhoods.
*Fast-moving trains will create a safety hazard for communities with a large number children.
* Rail cars stopped at grade crossings in Teaneck and Englewood will prevent people from driving or walking from one side of town to the other.
* Whatever service is available will not bring commuters directly into Manhattan.

“It’s the train to nowhere,” said Barry Honig of Tenafly, who occasionally commutes into the city.

Kerby Zayas of Englewood lives three blocks from the train line, but the service won’t take him to where he works: Hackensack. He’s concerned the train might stop during rush hour when he’s trying to get to the bus stop.

“I might get stuck on one side, and the buses I need to take will pull away,” he said.

Honig worried that the train’s station stops would create traffic jams on Palisade Avenue in Englewood — especially if multiple trains pass through the city during rush hour. The line could prevent emergency services from crossing the city.
It's reasons such as this that mass transit projects can't get built.

Of course, there is another more pressing reason why this will not happen. The state is out of money. There will be no money in the Transportation Trust Fund by 2011, and the sheer cost of this project means that unless a dedicated source of revenue can be found, there's no chance this will come to pass.

I wish that a project like this was able to be undertaken, because it would reduce traffic in Bergen County, and provide yet another link to mass transit in a part of the state that is currently underserved.

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