In April 2011, the NJTPA, in partnership with NJ TRANSIT, completed the Central New Jersey / Raritan Valley Transit Study, an analysis of potential transit improvements along the Interstate 78 (I-78) corridor. This study provides additional analysis of several recommendations made in the I-78 Corridor Transit Study, completed by NJTPA in January 2008.
Traffic congestion along the I-78 corridor is forecast to worsen, due to future residential and employment growth in New Jersey and in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania (adjacent to the Study Area). Existing transit services and facilities in the Study Area are limited: the RVL (Raritan Valley Line) rail service extends only to eastern Hunterdon County and rail station and Park-and-Ride facilities convenient to I-78 are at or near capacity. There is demand for additional transit service along the corridor, but the type and scope of investment to improve service will determine how much of that demand can be captured.
This study examined a variety of transit improvement options for the I-78 corridor, including express bus service to the urban core, development of new park and ride facilities, increasing parking at existing rail stations, extensions of commuter rail service, and operational/capacity improvements to the existing RVL.
Based on extensive research, analysis, outreach, and stakeholder participation, the study identified the following Next Steps that should be pursued as funding and stakeholder support becomes available:
Roadway Improvements—Route 22/78 ramp improvements and potential bus use of the I-78 shoulder.
New Bus Park-and-Ride Facilities—potential new facilities at Bloomsbury / Bethlehem on I-78 and near the confluence of Route 31 / I-78 / Route 22 / and the Annandale Rail Station on the RVL.
Commuter Rail Improvements and Extensions—potential for increased parking at the Annandale and High Bridge Stations on the RVL; potential extension of commuter rail service to Hampton, Bloomsbury/Bethlehem, or Phillipsburg; and potential operational / capacity improvements, including a third track along portions of the RVL, additional trackage along the Conrail Shared Assets Operations Lehigh Line (used by RVL), and construction of the Hunter Flyover to improve connections to the Northeast Corridor.
Counties and TMAs—these organizations play an important role in advancing projects by building consensus with their constituents. They can also work with businesses and communities to help develop lower density transit options in the Study Area (shared ride, vanpool, minibus, etc.).
Local Government—interested municipalities can work with NJ TRANSIT on land use and TOD (Transit Oriented Development) opportunities to support increased transit usage in the future.
Recommendations on which projects to pursue and fund need to be made in further consultation with local and county officials, regional and state agencies, and other stakeholders, including NJDOT (New Jersey Department of Transportation), NJ TRANSIT, private bus operators, and TMAs (Transportation Management Association) serving the corridor.