Living up to the concept that “everything old is new again,” New Jersey Transit said trains will start operating out of the newest Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station at Eighth Street in Bayonne on the afternoon of Jan. 31.
Mayor Mark A. Smith said that N.J. Transit will hold the opening ceremony at 11 a.m., and he has invited public officials from the federal, state, and local levels of government. The public is also invited to the event.
Regularly scheduled trips are expected to commence some time that afternoon.
The schedule calls for trains to run every 10 minutes during rush hour, starting at about 6:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. for the morning commute.
“Downtown residents have waited more than a generation for the restoration of rail service to Eighth Street.” – Mayor Mark Smith
The new station is located at West Eighth Street and Avenue C. The ribbon-cutting event will also include a plaque dedication ceremony honoring the late 1st Ward Councilman Robert J. Burrows, who was a major light rail advocate.
“Downtown residents have waited more than a generation for the restoration of rail service to Eighth Street,” Smith said. “The opening of the station will provide greater convenience for commuters going to and from Bergen Point. The arrival of the Light Rail station will help business and property values in the downtown area.”
Started in 2000
The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system began operating in 2000. The other three Bayonne stations are located along Avenue E at 45th Street, 34th Street, and 22nd Street.
Extending the light rail southward from 22nd Street required erecting retaining walls behind several Avenue E properties. For the majority of the extension, track construction took place within the existing railway right-of-way that runs parallel to Avenue E. Beginning at 11th Street, where Avenue E starts to curve as it goes south, the extension required the construction of a viaduct. That structure will carry light rail vehicles above local streets to an elevated platform at the new Eighth Street Station, which features an elevator and stairs between the street and platform levels.
The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system connects Bayonne with Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City, and North Bergen. It may at some point extend to Bergen County.
With an eventual overall cost of approximately $2.2 billion, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail is one of the largest public works projects ever in New Jersey. The project is being funded by a mixture of state and federal funds.
The project was first envisioned in the late 1980s, when officials on various levels of government sought an alternative means of transportation in the traffic congested area along the Hudson River waterfront.
Although a Bayonne extension was not envisioned in the original plans, Bayonne officials – including the late then-Councilwoman Dorothy Harrington – fought for it.
The rail line opened to the public in April of 2000 with only two stops for Bayonne: 34th Street and 45th Street. The 22nd Street station opened in 2003.
For Bayonne residents, the Light Rail has become a significant link with Jersey City and – by connecting to the PATH and ferry system – New York City.
With a design based on the original Eighth Street Central Railroad Station, the new station will become the southern terminus of the light rail system at the intersection of Avenue C and Eighth Street, and will feature 15 short-term parking spaces and a bus drop-off area. Most riders will likely walk to the station from the surrounding neighborhood.
By 2015, transit officials expect the station to generate 1,700 riders each workday.