South Jersey Light Rail Project AdvancesWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
An Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for an 18-mile Glassboro-Camden light rail line has been completed for submission to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The proposal would restore passenger service along an existing Conrail line between Gloucester and Camden counties, both in New Jersey’s Philadelphia suburbs. Diesel light rail vehicles (DLRVs)—similar to those running on New Jersey Transit’s River LINE—would carry riders between 14 stations (see map below). Transfers would be available at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden. A transfer to the PATCO (Port Authority Transit Corp.) Speedline would provide connections to Philadelphia and Camden County, as well as to Atlantic City via NJ Transit, and a transfer to the River LINE would provide connections to Trenton, N.J., and to New York City via the Northeast Corridor.
The Glassboro-Camden line is sponsored by the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), a bi-state agency serving New Jersey and Pennsylvania; PATCO; and NJ Transit. A alternatives analysis study completed in 2009 projected the project to cost $1.6 billion.
The next step is preliminary engineering design and project management. The South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) has committed $200 million to the effort.
“This project will reduce traffic congestion, provide greater transportation options and advance environmental stewardship,” SJTA Executive Director Stephen F. Dougherty said.
“The GCL project is a vital transportation link for South Jersey, one that is long overdue,” added Jeffrey L. Nash, Camden County Commissioner, and DRPA Vice Chairman. “The GCL will serve to reduce our carbon footprint, increase property values for homeowners, spark economic opportunities for businesses, and provide a convenient means of transportation for workers, students, and those who want easy access to the universities, hospitals, and cities.”
In fall 2014, the Federal Transit Administration declined to sanction an environmental study for the rail line because DRPA had “not identified a project sponsor who can accept the responsibility for commitments in the environmental impact statement, and ultimately operate and construct the project.”
Editor’s Note: Like many rail transit projects, the Camden-Glassboro Line (GCL) is facing some stiff community opposition. Some detractors say extending RiverLINE light rail service down to Glassboro and Rowan University will bring the “criminal element from Camden” into their suburban communities. Criminals looking to terrorize rural New Jerseyans and college students are going to board LRVs, ride them to the suburbs, break into houses, steal wide-screen TVs and then wait for the next train to ride back to Camden. Yeah, right … —William C. Vantuono.