• Sixth Street Embankment (Harsimus Stem) HBLR / Rail Trail

  • General discussion related to Rail Trails nationwide, including proposed rail trail routes. The official site of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy can be found here: www.railstotrails.org.
General discussion related to Rail Trails nationwide, including proposed rail trail routes. The official site of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy can be found here: www.railstotrails.org.

Moderator: railtrailbiker

  by Sir Ray
Douglas John Bowen wrote:The Dec. 19 edition of the Jersey Journal carries coverage of the political maneuvering now occurring over the fate of the Embankment. LRT is mentioned in the item.
http://www.nj.com/hudsoncountynow/index ... es_wi.html
Yeah, I saw that, I don't read too much into those articles, as I tried to insinuate in my OP the arguements go back and forth. Eventually things will settle out one way or another.
Best part of the article:
"Everybody expected more. We all sat there and thought this was going to get better," said Ward D Councilman Bill Gaughan. "There was no plan. It was kind of like 'What the hell was that?'"
Maureen Crowley, the Preservation Coalition's coordinator shot back: "Our landscape architect ... illustrated a three-part design: a reserved strip for light rail, an East Coast Greenway (bike trail) segment, and a nature-oriented park."
  by JPhurst
Not sure what councilman Gaughan was talking about. The EPC has presented a clear plan all along for use of the Embankment as a park, while keeping an open mind about light rail.

If there is ANY public use of the Embankment, it will be due to the efforts of the EPC. They led the way in fighting the legal battle that will require CONRAIL to offer the Embankment for public use (although CONRAIL is already trying to circumvent it). They have also identified millions of dollars in funding available to develop the landmark as open space.

But for certain city councilmen, if there is no palm to grease, and no developer to favor, then there is "no plan."

Full Disclosure: The Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, of which I am president, fully supports the EPC. We have also, in the past, met with representatives of NJ-ARP about possible light rail use for the Bergen Arches and Embankment.
  by umtrr-author
Being that I lived right across from "The Embankment" when it was still the Pennsy's Harismus Cove branch, I think I have the same hope.

Is Jersey City somehow immune to the housing downturn? Why would anyone seek to build more stuff at this time? Ah, but I'm veering off topic...
  by Douglas John Bowen
It's a mistake to reflexively apply post-WWII standards for U.S. housing (affluent people flee cities, want only split-levels or ranches, etc.--that kind of thing) to any given housing situation as we near the year 2010. We apply the same theme to large parts of urban New Jersey that we use for passenger railroading. Sure, it's not 1947. But it's not 1974, either.

With that in mind, it's quite conceivable that more housing might be useful, and used, in the foreseeable future, given the transformation of the Jersey City waterfront (certainly since 1974!), and the growth in transit demand and rail transit service within that area. Put differently, it's no longer a laughable suggestion to consider living in or near Pavonia/Newport, Harsimus Cove, Grove Street ... or Hamilton Park.

Therefore, where's there's such potential demand, the slide in housing prices and/or values might, may, could be less severe than, or at least "only" comparable to, other parts of the Garden State.

For our part, NJ-ARP won't beat up New Jersey's second-largest city (or IS it? Some suggest it really is the largest already) for proactively planning its own growth. That's a change in attitude that's refreshing, at least to us. It's also good for rail transit.
  by umtrr-author
Douglas, the desirability of Downtown Jersey City living is not what's in question. Certainly if we had hung on in our third floor apartment instead of Escaping To The Suburbs, life would have been a lot more pleasant after a while. (Although I doubt that there would have been any room for an N Scale layout.) Without getting too far afield, I think it's reasonable to say that much of the area has become quite gentrified.

But that wasn't my point. What I was saying is that given the current economic situation and the increased difficulty in finding financing, I don't see how a project like this is going to get off the ground very easily. That would be not only for the developer to get started, but for potential owners/renters to qualify for what I expect will be rather pricey dwellings.

And of course I'm very much in favor of not destroying the Embankment... but money talks.
  by Douglas John Bowen
We're not real estate experts per se (though at least two of our Directors in fact work in the real estate arena), but in terms of financing light rail projects, we'd keep an eye on the ongoing work of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who has kept alive "fast starts" and "new starts" funding specifically for LRT and streetcars.

Few know the perils of advancing anything rail in Hudson County better than we do (we note with immodesty, but with accuracy for all that). So we won't predict that any Sixth Street LRT alignment is a done deal, or will occur easily or effortlessly. But neither do we automatically time our efforts to coincide with "good times" or other automatic external criteria.

Beyond that, at least one developer appears to believe that opportunity beckons. That's his/her/its call. Our job is to try to aid any effort by Jersey City to extend HBLRT to yet another path. Maybe not right now. But maybe sometime in the not-all-that-distant future.
  by SemperFidelis
It would also probably be a fair goal to allow any design for the embankment to at least be a shared use one. I can't imagine the HBLR spur would need the entirety of the embankment. It would most likely only need two of the four (I'm assuming it was a four track line there) ROWs available.

It wouldn't be ideal, but even a single track shuttle would be preferable to the entire embankment being taken for housing.
  by JCGUY
The embankment only exists for a few blocks and stops cold at Marin Blvd. The embankment does not extend up into the Palisades. What exactly is the LRT supposed to connect to? The end of the embankment at Marin Blvd. is not currently the site of any offices, but rather a shopping area. Would this be a Secaucus to the shopping center venture, or would the LRT pass over Marin, past the shopping area and flyover to Washington? Would the LRT be intended to facilitate JC to Secaucus trips, or is it supposed to bring people from further afield? It's hard to envision the utility of light rail on that alignment. JC, travelers and pedestrians alike, would probably be better served by a couple road flyovers or flyunders that would allow people to get from one side of town to the other without having to navigate a score of crosswalks and traffic lights.
  by Douglas John Bowen
JCGUY asks some pertinent questions in terms of reach and destinations, and depending on what day of the week it is we ourselves as NJ-ARP aren't fully sure what Jersey City itself has in mind for HBLRT access to the west, using the embankment.

But we don't see any insurmountable obstacles, or fatal flaws, barring such access to wherever HBLRT would go. One of LRT's great attributes and advantages is its flexibility, whether at grade, elevated, below street level, or through a tunnel. If we see few problems extending the current West Side Avenue branch further despite the height adjustment, we also see few problems (in fact, maybe fewer) for any 6th Street branch.

We'll politely but emphatically part company over the assertion that such an extension would offer little benefit or utility. (We hear that for every new HBLRT segment; we haven't seen it proved out as yet.) But if Jersey City residents really want more roads (over and under) in lieu of more LRT, they have every right to inform their elected officials.
  by JCGUY
I can imagine several extensions of or spurs from the current system that would be highly useful. I could also see putting some money into grade separation in some key spots (Washington Street being an obvious candidate for a traffic duck-under below the tracks). I'd especially like the thing to follow River Rd and head up to Edgewater. I think there's some real ridership demand there. I just don't see this one idea as having much utility. I know its sacrelige in the smart precincts of JC, but I also don't think turning the embankment into a raised park makes much sense either. It seems like a very costly undertaking that provides, essentially, a short walking path for a few people. Plus, I know the area is gentrifying at light speed, but really, this is not a very safety minded proposal. This is not an area like the one in which the high line exists. And as for parks, gosh, if the urban areas of Hudson County need anything, it's probably a passive field where you can toss a ball, not a 15 foot wide pathway to go with a score of 10,00 square foot pocket parks that do the area. This is basically a very expensive conversation piece. If you want a path for a nice walk and an unobstructed bike ride, how about turning the embankment into a short auto flyover, then taking all traffic off 6th street and making 6th street a dedicated at grade pedestrian path and bike way?
  by umtrr-author
I think the same question-- "to where?" applies equally to an auto flyover as it would to light rail.

If I were walking or biking, I think I'd rather have a path that goes over the auto traffic on Jersey Avenue, et al then having to take my chances at every intersection.

I also believe that the Embankment is a little wider than 15 feet, particularly as you get closer to the river. A 1953 map reprinted in New York Harbor Railroads Volume 2, Page 40, shows five tracks coming out of the Harismus Cove Yard. If I recall correctly, this narrowed to two on the way up to Newark Avenue.

Off topic: Lincoln Park has plenty of "passive fields" and it's in Hudson County, in Jersey City, in fact...
  by JCGUY
Downtown has many tight corners, blind intersections and narrow roads. There are tons of pedestrian injuries and fender benders down here. A person was killed on Marin not too long ago. Separating traffic allows a quick half mile jaunt to be taken without delay and without running the risk of the aforesaid incidents. An auto flyover needn't really connect to much because a car can join the street grid post-flyover and continue on its way. Also, a flyover for the length of the embankment might reduce trips on Newark Ave., which would coincide well with making that thoroughfare more of leisurely place.

I agree: Lincoln Park and Liberty State Park have huge passive fields. Lincoln Park is quite a local gem. However, neither of these places is convenient to downtown (where the embankment is), especially given the inability to drive a mile in JC in under 20 minutes.

I agree that I'd much rather bike off the grid. I bike in JC all the time on the grid and it's scary. I wish we had a few wider streets with room for a dedicated bike lane. That said, you could put in a separated bike lane on a newly car free 6th street, and you wouldn't need to navigate a ramp to use it as you would need to do to get up to the embankment.

Look, the embankment will eventually be a park, let's be realistic but it won't be a useful park. We have a world class promenade right now in JC. It's along the Hudson.