Issue 389 October 28, 2002
Bergen Arches Concept Study Complete: Public Adamantly Opposes Roadway Option

Jersey City civic leaders unanimously condemned any notion of developing a roadway in the Bergen Arches rail trench at a public meeting last Wednesday night.

The Bergen Arches is an abandoned railroad trench that runs through the heart of Jersey City and tunnels through the Palisades toward Secaucus.  The Bergen Arches it is near several major roadways, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system, NJ Transit and PATH lines and various freight rail lines and yards.  The Wednesday meeting represented the end of the current phase of study.  It was launched as a mode-neutral transportation investigation after protests against the highway-only discussion that began among city and NJ DOT officials in the late 1990s.

Former mayor Brett Schundler had championed a Bergen Arches highway as a way to bring more cars to the rapidly developing Jersey City waterfront, but civic activists have resisted, saying the dense and rapidly developing city should emphasize transit in any development of transportation capacity. 

Jersey City mayor Glenn Cunningham said during his election campaign in 2001 he favors light rail development in the right-of-way.

Wednesday’s presentation was the final act for the concept study.  It is now up to Jersey City and the NJTPA to decide how or whether to pursue development of the Bergen Arches corridor.

The study ranked a “mixed” option of HOV lanes and general roadway lanes in the trench as the top option, though light rail between the Jersey City waterfront, the Secaucus Transfer and the Meadowlands sports complex also ranked highly.

Jersey City citizens were incensed that “stakeholder interest” was given lower consideration than other issues in the concept ranking.  They attacked any notion of using the corridor as a roadway and said the city was already overrun by cars.  Many expressed a profound distrust of transportation agencies and the process by which the Bergen Arches is being studied and debated.  Given the over tenor of the meeting, and the sometimes withering rhetoric directed against them, members of the DOT, TPA and consultant team seemed relieved that the study had drawn to a close. 

The Tri-State Campaign and the Committee for Better Transit agreed that highway options would bring more traffic without yielding sustainable congestion relief.  The groups said that rail freight options for the corridor should be given another look given anticipated growth at New Jersey ports, the study findings notwithstanding. 

MTR #389 portable document format (PDF) file version
(requires Adobe Acrobat).

Related Articles and Links

New Jersey: HOV is Dead Parsons-Brinckerhoff: Long Live HOV (Sept. 23, 2002)

Road Plan Didn't Depart with Schundler (March 18, 2002)

HART - Hudson Alliance for Rational Transportation

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