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Update to the Northern Branch Corridor Project

NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY OF THE SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR THE NORTHERN BRANCH CORRIDOR PROJECT

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT) hereby announce the availability of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for the Northern Branch Corridor Project (Northern Branch) for public review and comment. The Northern Branch SDEIS documents the social, economic, and environmental impacts associated with the construction of the proposed action.

NJ TRANSIT will conduct two (2) public hearings to receive oral and written comments on the Northern Branch SDEIS. The hearings will include a formal presentation, an open house with information and displays, and the ability to comment on the findings of the SDEIS.

Interested persons may submit, in writing, comments concerning the findings of the Northern Branch SDEIS to: Linda A. Mosch, P.E., Project Director, Northern Branch Corridor EIS, NJ TRANSIT Capital Planning & Programs, One Penn Plaza East, Newark, NJ 07105, via the “Contact Us” page, or email info@northernbranchcorridor.com. The 60-day comment period for this project begins on March 24, 2017. Comments must be submitted in writing to NJ TRANSIT by May 23, 2017.

Public Hearing Date and Meeting Location

Monday, April 24, 2017

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (presentation at 3:30 pm) and 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm (presentation at 7:30 pm) Crowne Plaza Englewood Hotel, 401 S. Van Brunt Street, Englewood, NJ 07631

The public hearing site is accessible to the mobility-impaired. Spanish and Korean translators will be on site. Should other special accommodations be needed, please send an email to info@northernbranchcorridor.com by April 17, 2017.

To view and download the SDEIS chapters, or to see locations to view hard copies of the SDEIS, go to the Documents page.

View the Presentation and Display Boards from the April 24th Public Hearing

What is Northern Branch? - Project Planning

What is Northern Branch?

The Northern Branch is a freight rail line owned by CSX Transportation that runs through Hudson and Bergen Counties to the New York State Border. The Northern Branch Corridor, through which the rail line traverses, is a densely settled suburban environment that has not been served by passenger rail since the discontinuation of service on the Northern Branch and West Shore Lines in the 1950s and 60s.

The Northern Branch Corridor Project calls for transit improvements in northeastern Hudson and southeastern Bergen Counties through the restoration of passenger rail service on an existing freight rail line. The electric light rail service would operate on West Side Avenue in North Bergen, and then on existing railroad right-of-way owned by CSX Transportation (CSX) between 91st Street in North Bergen and the northern border of Englewood and would introduce new station stops in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood.

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Project Planning

The growth of automobile usage and accompanying roadway congestion in recent decades led planners and officials to search for solutions to the growing traffic problems in the Bergen County area. In the mid-1990s the West Shore Region Study provided a comprehensive examination of multi-modal opportunities throughout Bergen County, New Jersey and Rockland County, New York. Recommended for further study was an extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) from 85th Street in North Bergen along the Northern Branch to Tenafly, New Jersey.

The Northern Branch Corridor DEIS was prepared by NJ TRANSIT in cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to evaluate the benefits, costs and social, economic and environmental impacts of constructing and operating passenger rail service on the Northern Branch. The DEIS evaluated two Build Alternatives: the Preferred Alternative, which extended existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) service from North Bergen to the Tenafly-Cresskill border, and a similar HBLR extension that terminated at Route 4 in Englewood.

The DEIS was published in November 2011, and can be reviewed here: Northern Branch DEIS.

Public hearings were held in January 2012, and the public comment period closed on February 21, 2012. More than 1,200 comments were received and reviewed by NJ TRANSIT. While many comments expressed support for the service, residents and community leaders in Tenafly were strongly opposed to the extension of service into their community. After considering the comments, FTA and NJ TRANSIT have developed a new alignment that would extend HBLR service from North Bergen to Englewood Hospital, which is north of Route 4 and south of Tenafly. Light rail service would not extend past Englewood.

This new alignment results in changes to the service plan and potential environmental and social impacts explored in the DEIS circulated for comment in 2012. As a result, this new alignment and associated changes have been analyzed in a Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS) and circulated for public comment and agency feedback in a process closely approximating the one undertaken for the DEIS.

The SDEIS was published on March 24, 2017, and can be reviewed here: Northern Branch SDEIS.

Similar to a DEIS, an SDEIS requires a public hearing and public comment period. The comments on the SDEIS and DEIS will be addressed together in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). A 60-day public comment period will follow the notice of availability (NOA) of the SDEIS, during which time NJ TRANSIT will hold a public hearing. Comments will be collected and reviewed in the same manner as conducted for the DEIS. Provided that the SDEIS comments do not present compelling arguments for substantial revision to the SDEIS Preferred Alternative, an FEIS will be prepared, incorporating the SDEIS findings and unchanged elements from the DEIS. A response to comments chapter will be included in the FEIS, addressing all comments received during the prior two comment periods.

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