Hitting the highlights
A new light-rail line from Pennsylvania Station to Newark, N.J.’s Broad Street train station began operating in July as part of an economic development project to revitalize a downtown central corridor. The one-mile light-rail extension carries passengers to popular landmarks and tourist destinations, such as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the Newark Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium, Rutgers Law School, the Newark Museum, the city’s Public Library and the Broad Street commercial corridor.
The light-rail tracks share the right-of-way with widened city streets flanked with new sidewalks, plazas, street furniture, specially designed historic streetlight fixtures and trees. Five above ground stations are located near NJ TRANSIT’s subway, commuter rail and bus networks, as well as Amtrak and Greyhound stations, and Newark Liberty International Airport. Each station design incorporates architectural elements and materials from adjacent structures, and artwork by local and national artists reflects the neighborhoods’ culture and history. For example, windscreens at the Washington Park Station resemble African war shields and textile patterns, reflecting the city’s African-American culture.
Adjacent to the NJPAC station, the city installed the initial segment of a citywide New Jersey Walk of Fame to honor performing artists who were born or grew up in the Garden State, including Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, John Travolta, Eddie Murphy, Bruce Springsteen and Queen Latifah. At all five stations, song lyrics by Sarah Vaughn or Wayne Shorter, two jazz performers born in Newark, are etched into the trackbed and platform, paying homage to the state’s jazz heritage.
The light-rail service is helping spur economic growth along the corridor. For example, a formerly vacant office building has been converted into desirable commercial space with an entrance relocated to face the light-rail line; a community college renovated a building across from the Washington Park Station; and NJPAC is planning to build residential and commercial high-rises adjacent to the performing arts center. NJ TRANSIT is offering property and air rights acquired for the light-rail alignment to prospective developers.
Like the Newark City Subway, the light rail operates daily from 5 a.m. to midnight, and NJ TRANSIT is working with entertainment venues along the line to coordinate service on event days. During its first year of operation, the system will average 4,000 trips on weekdays, and service is expected to increase to about 7,000 daily trips by 2010.
Project: Light-rail line construction and urban revitalization
Jurisdiction: Newark, N.J.
Agencies involved: NJ TRANSIT, New Jersey Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Federal Transit Administration
Companies involved: New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff
Date completed: July 2006
Cost: $207.7 million