ELIZABETH — A total of $55 million in state and federal money will fund the construction of a new two-story building and train platforms at the city's midtown NJ Transit Station, a project officials hailed today as an economic driver.
"This project is not just about the rail, it's not just about the station," U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said during an event outside the station. "This will be an economic accelerator for the city of Elizabeth. It'll increase housing values, it'll spur business growth, it'll create jobs and expand opportunity. This is a tremendous day for the city of Elizabeth and for the region."
Booker, Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Albio Sires joined state, city and NJ Transit officials and Union County freeholders to unveil the designs for the new station.
"This area is going through a renaissance, and this is just going to help it," Sires said. "It's going to create jobs, people are going to move into the area because of easy access to moving back and forth, and you need a train station that's adequate."
Preliminary designs of the West Grand Street station, expected to be completed in 2018, include a two-story station building with a street-level ticket office, waiting room and vendor space.
New, longer platforms will be constructed with covered, climate-controlled waiting areas. Elevators to the platform will be renovated, with additional elevators and stairways also planned.
Passenger-information and security systems are also slated for upgrades.
At the plaza's westbound entrance, the redesigned station will feature a marquee facade, a new staircase and additional vendor space. NJ Transit and city officials will work together to incorporate art into the design.
NJ Transit Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said the artwork will "express the essence and treasured identity of the community."
"When complete, the Elizabeth station will truly be a state-of-the-art facility for the residents and riders, and it will be consistent with the character of this bustling, historic business district," she said.
The proximity of the station to the city's midtown business district and other commercial and retail areas was a main focus of officials' remarks during the event.
Mayor Chris Bollwage called the station reconstruction "an economic development project that will create jobs in our city, as well as transform this area."
State Sen. Ray Lesniak said the renovations were one of the most important things that could happen to the city, comparing the focus on developing areas around transit hubs to a modern-day version of the Industrial Revolution.
"We are now seeing, in the beginning of this century, the urban revolution, a revolution that will take place around train stations, around the core of urban areas of cities, where people can take mass transit to get to work, to go to college, to enjoy restaurants," he said.
An average of 7,526 passengers travel through Elizabeth Station on weekdays, using 113 daily trains on both NJ Transit's North East Corridor and North Jersey Coast rail lines, according to the transportation agency. Nine NJ Transit bus lines also serve the station.
Read original article here.