$1 Billion Light Rail Turnkey; Firs ever in U.S.
What is as loud as a whisper... transports more passengers than your average airplane...creates 25,000 jobs...and is as innovative as the Internet? It is light rail delivered through the super turnkey method. And you can find it in New Jersey.
This light rail project is the most ambitious public transit project undertaken in New Jersey in more than 60 years, said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Frank J. Wilson. For the first time ever, a $1.26 billion Light Rail project will be built through a Design/Build/Operate/Maintain (DBOM) contract with a 15-year term of performance that forges a unique partnership of public and private entities.
The State has awarded the first phase of this project to a consortium led by Raytheon Infrastructure Services. This initial operating segment will cover 10 miles of the 20.5 mile Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit System (HBLRTS).
In selecting the DBOM approach, Commissioner Wilson was implementing Governor
Christie Whitman's directive to involve the private sector in programs, projects and services normally undertaken by the public sector. These partnerships would help to both reduce the costs of state government and accelerate the timetable to meet taxpayers expectations.
DBOM is a creative approach that meshes the strengths of both the public and private sectors to deliver a transit project that is good for the entire community. It is being built to serve the nation's most densely populated area, creating the state's first north-south public transportation corridor along the Hudson River Waterfront from the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, NJ to Bayonne, NJ. It will tie the ongoing development along the northern New Jersey waterfront and its emerging employment opportunities to transit dependent neighborhoods that are abundant sources of labor and trades skills.
"Implementing such a far reaching initiative required three key ingredients; calculated risk taking, effective communication, and ample funding. New Jersey's risk taking may have started with the state, but it continued with the partnering efforts of the business community and qualified contractors. Listening to private sector requirements to get the job done encouraged us to create new methods of structuring agreements. Smart risk taking led to smart funding," said Wilson, who also serves as chairman of the New Jersey Transit Board of Directors.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena signed a full-funding agreement with New Jersey to cover the $569 million cost of the capital investment for the HBLRTS this month. New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund will be used to guarantee the timely availability of construction funding. Linking federal appropriations and state guarantees gave us a simple answer to a complex funding challenge. Bottom line, the state will have all the money it needs to move ahead.
New Jersey's HBLRTS will be a model for light rail transit development across the nation, linking together major toll roads with Park & Ride facilities, a commuter rail terminal, rapid transit (PATH) and local bus routes. Unique provisions include:
A strong coalition of community support between business, residents and elected officials.
A sophisticated multi-year funding arrangement
A 15-year operating and maintenance franchise that forces the contractor to build quality into the system.
Construction is expected to begin in December of this year, with service expected to begin by January 1996 for Phase One. By the turn of the century, the HBLRTS will be extended another 10 miles. When fully implemented, New Jersey's light rail initiative will be a unique example of intermodal transportation. Watch a transportation jigsaw puzzle evolve into an integrated whole. Watch light rail in New Jersey.