One of the largest public works project in New Jersey is the Hudson- Bergen Light Rail. The Hudson Bergen Light Rail, also known as the HBLR, is located mostly in Hudson County connecting Hudson County waterfront communities to a station on the border of Bergen County. The Hudson Bergen Light Rail is a part of a smart growth strategy in New Jersey. In terms of New Jersey, the Department of State describes smart growth as “well-planned, well-managed, growth”.
The HBLR has been a success! During the 1980s, the Hudson waterfront area was undeveloped, but was seen as a vital site due to its unique view of The Big Apple. After construction, the HBLR began operating in 2000 to its last expansion project in 2011. It has increased transit oriented development in older areas within suburbs and urban communities. This can be seen with the Hudson waterfront, which has been a great success. The only issue is the HBLR is it is the Hudson BERGEN Light Rail, but only Hudson County is benefiting so where is the light rail in Bergen County.
Where can I find it? The only stop, which is the end of the line, is in North Bergen, which is near the bottom of the county. An enhancement of this smart growth development would be for the HBLR to expand into the northern branch of Bergen County. Discussions have been going for almost a decade, but improvement is needed for inner-state transportation. As a resident in northern Bergen County, I am fully aware how life is car-oriented due to the poor public transportation in the area unless you’re going into NYC. As the most densely populated county in the state, Bergen County would highly prosper with the new infrastructure. Proposed projects are foreseen into North Bergen, Fairview, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood. Commercial development in a city as in Englewood would highly flourish. The downtown core has seen new development projects adding a parking garage and apartments complexes with storefronts, as a result, with the light rail, successful economic development can be seen as the Hudson waterfront exhibited with the input of the HBLR. This is one example of why the HBLR is needed so now think of how positive this will be for the mostly residential suburbs that are in need of commercial redevelopment such as Leonia and Ridgefield.