SECAUCUS, N.J. (PIX11) — Leading lawmakers in New Jersey unveiled a plan to replace one of the most heavily used and oldest bridges in the state with an added twist — new rail connecting the meadowlands to the Northeast Corridor.
About 150,000 commuters use Route 3 to get across the Hackensack River, and the eastbound span of the bridge is one of the most repaired bridges in the state.
“It took a Democratic President and a Democratic House and Senate to get the job done,” Sen. Bob Menendez said.
Standing with the nearly 90-year-old bridge in the background, New Jersey’s top lawmakers including — Menendez, Sen. Cory Booker and Gov. Phil Murphy — hailed the first big bridge investment to come out of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.
More than 500 New Jersey bridges will be getting replaced or revamped over the next few years. The $143 million replacement of the Route 3 eastbound bridge over the Hackensack River will not just be a refresh of the well worn road.
“It will include a feature to lay down a light rail connection across the river,” Murphy said.
The vision is to connect to the Meadowlands, including the American Dream complex and MetLife Stadium, to the Northeast corridor with light rail or a monorail to Secaucus Junction.
“We have brought home the resources,” Booker said. “We are investing in our state, and when you do that you don’t just create jobs but you create opportunity for businesses for economic growth and for more.”
However, the bridge will take two years just to design, and any potential light rail will take years longer than that to complete. With the rest of the Democratic agenda including social spending, tax reform, climate and voting right stalled, PIX11 News pressed these Democrats if projects this far in the future will be enough to convince voters to keep them in the majority in Washington this year.
Sen. Menendez said big things take time, but other project like improvements to NJ Transit and lead pipe replacement, will start sooner.
“The effects of what we want to see will be seen in a way that is palpable that people will say OK I finally see progress,” he said.
Both senators said they will work to get smaller pieces of the so called Build Back Better agenda passed. Each mentioned getting the SALT tax deduction and the child tax credit restored among other items.