South Jersey got a few steps closer to a more integrated transportation network last week, when the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and Gov. Corzine announced the preferred route for a proposed South Jersey light rail extension. The train line will run 18 miles from Camden to Glassboro alongside an existing Conrail freight line, connecting to PATCO and River Line trains at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden.
The chosen route will run through existing downtowns, providing a great incentive for transit oriented development and smart growth planning. Glassboro and Woodbury, the two largest towns along the selected route, have already begun redevelopment plans in an effort to bolster pedestrian friendly downtowns. Gloucester’s three largest employers, Underwood Hospital, Rowan University, and the Gloucester County government, are all within walking distance of planned stations.
New Jersey has already committed $500 million for the first phase of the project, which would extend light rail 8 miles between Camden and to Cooper Street in Woodbury. The full project is expected to cost $1.3 billion, with the state looking to share costs with the federal government and private investors. According to DRPA, physical construction could start in approximately five years, and will take anywhere from six to eight years to complete. Public hearings on the new line are expected to begin in June.
The DRPA also announced plans to conduct a joint study with NJ TRANSIT examining bus rapid transit on Routes 42 and 55, with dedicated lanes and park-and-ride lots, as well as connecting service to Camden and downtown Philadelphia. It’s not clear yet whether bus lanes would be carved out of existing traffic lanes or added to them. The agencies will also look at improvements to the Atlantic City commuter rail line.