West Shore Light Rail Plans Developing

Posted by Dil Gillani on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 at 11:52am

With economic development happening on Staten Island's West Shore, many are wondering how well the infastructure can hold up. It's no secret that mass transit to the area is lacking. Luckily, officials are taking the necessary steps for a solution. The Staten Island Economic Developement Corp. plans to push for funding on two studies that could make the planned light-rail a reality.

According to the Staten Island Advance, the idea is to build a 13.1-mile public transit system with stops from Richmond Valley to Elm Park. It would carry Island commuters to the Bayonne Bridge and connect with New Jersey Transit's Hudson Bergen Light Rail Line, which leads to PATH trains into Manhattan. Robert Moore, chairman of the SIEDC, describes the plan as a "signature project and highest priority."

Map shows stops along proposed West Shore light-rail system. (Courtesy Staten Island Economic Development Corp. VIA SI Advance)

In 2009, rail studies were previously conducted and and estimated 13,000 riders per day are expected. Mayor Deblasio is a fan of the proposed rail which he said will "revolutionize" transportation on Staten Island by linking it to Bayonne and beyond.

$5 million is now needed to get the studies started which the SIEDC is lobbying state officials for. Sponsorship from agencies like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority or the city Department of Transportation is also required. Finally, an environmental impact study and alternatives analysis study must be completed.

Without a light rail system, traffic would increase on the west shore as the amount of residents increases. According to project manager Varun Sanyal, the Economic Development Corp. estimates that the area will be home to 65,000 new resident by 2030. Add to that the expanding presence of the Corporate Park of Staten Island, the coming Freshkills Park and the development of a mega movie studio at the old Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, Charleston, and the need for expanded transit for residents and workers is clear, proponents say.

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