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Elected officials back Hudson-Bergen Light Rail extension

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Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto was among the officials speaking in support of the rail extension Monday. Others included Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle.
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto was among the officials speaking in support of the rail extension Monday. Others included Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle. - ()

At the Exchange Place Light Rail Stop in Jersey City on Monday, city Mayor Steven Fulop and Englewood Mayor Frank Huttle were joined by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) in announcing their support for extending the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail northward into Bergen County.

Fulop and Huttle, who co-chair a commission comprised of mayors belonging to towns that either have an existing or proposed stop along the line, said Monday that Jersey City and Englewood each have passed resolutions in support of a northern extension of the line.

“There is only so much a municipality can do to create jobs and generate economic activity without the proper infrastructure to accommodate travel throughout its region,” Huttle said. The light rail extension is the smart and efficient way to connect the two most congested counties in New Jersey, who reside in the shadow of Manhattan, in order to accommodate economic growth well into the future.”

Despite its title, the line does not currently serve Bergen County, extending from its southern terminus in Bayonne to North Bergen. Current expansion plans propose new stations in Bergen County near Fairview, Leonia, Ridgefield, Palisades Park and Englewood.

According to NJ Transit stats from 2013, the light rail had a weekday daily ridership of more than 43,000 passengers. Fulop and Huttle note that the planned extension could add as many as 23,800 new daily passengers by 2030.

“The success of the light rail in expanding residential and commercial development in Jersey City and Hudson County has been remarkable, and a full expansion into Bergen County will further benefit Jersey City and add to the commerce of our region,” Fulop said. “The support of Speaker Prieto and our Hudson-Bergen delegation in Trenton will assist us in achieving our goal of expanding this vital transportation line and spurring economic development in northern New Jersey.”

Prieto highlighted that, under the Economic Opportunity Act, additional incentives are available for projects located within a half-mile of a new light rail station.

“New Jersey has continued to lag behind neighboring states in recovering from the recession and creating jobs,” Prieto said. “In order to fully rebound, we must invest in infrastructure and transportation projects that will help our region remain competitive and that offer the potential for our economy to continue growing well into the future. Expanding light rail service is a key component of this objective.”

According to an NJ Spotlight report, new state Department of Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox said at an event last Friday in Atlantic City that expanding the light rail would be a priority.

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