2013-01-17 / Front Page

NJ Transit announces approval of train station

Northeast Corridor line will run through MainStreetNB project, to be built along Route 1 north
Staff Writer

The greater North Brunswick area has reason to be excited, according to Jonathan Frieder, principal of North Brunswick TOD Associates.

“We’re excited that we are all moving forward,” he said with a smile he could not contain as he sat in the offices on the former Johnson & Johnson site on Route 1 north, overlooking the massive plans for the MainStreetNB transit village project. “We have waited for this moment for seven years.”

That moment occurred on Jan. 8, when NJ Transit went out to bid on the preliminary engineering, construction and design work of a new train station and “flyover” tracks, which is estimated to cost $30 million.

“This is the preliminary stage, but the train station will have all transit ticket amenities such as vending and notices,” said Nancy Snyder, spokesperson for NJ Transit.

All bids are due by the end of the business day on Feb 15.

“After that, the procurement process will begin, where officials will review all the bids,” she said. “We are looking at a projected completion date of 2018.”

Snyder said NJ Transit sees many benefits with the proposed North Brunswick train station, which will be the first for the township.

The area has been considered the busiest for rail lines in North America.

“We have seen a substantial customer growth in our Jersey Avenue station [in New Brunswick],” she said. “We continuously monitor our customer patterns and trends. We foresee that this new train station will significantly benefit the area.”

Snyder said the flyover tracks would allow southbound trains to loop back around and head back north toward Newark.

“Right now, those trains would have to go down to Trenton,” she said. “The flyover tracks are similar to a ramp off a major highway.”

Snyder said the new train station would also allow for longer train sets of 12 cars.

She noted the “unique” private-public partnership among NJ Transit, North Brunswick Township and North Brunswick TOD Associates goes along with Gov. Chris Christie’s call for additional train services to New York City.

“We are all working together to benefit the residents in and around the area,” she said.

Frieder said NJ Transit going out to bid was big news because their project was all contingent upon securing a train station on the property. Phase one of the transit village project, which sits on a 212-acre site, began in September. When the project is completed at 2300 Route 1, in a maximum of 20 years, there will be 300,000 square feet of freestanding large retail establishments, 450,000 square feet of mixed-use retail and commercial space, 50,000 square feet of freestanding commercial space, 195,000 square feet of office space, a 250,000 square foot hotel, and 1,875 residential units, for a total of 1.25 million square feet of development on the property.

Frieder noted that many sustainable and environmentally friendly features are included in the project, including solar panels on building roofs.

Main Street and the associated piazza have been designed after Piazza Navona in Italy, Metuchen, Palmer Square in Princeton, and Crocker Park in Ohio. The façade of the buildings will have a storied look, Frieder said.

The existing Governor’s Pointe and Renaissance housing developments will be connected to the transit village property to accommodate residents there without the use of a car.

Frieder explained that the first half of this year will include finishing up demolition and working on streetscape and drainage. Then, the second half of the year will include the building of the Costco and Target, which are the two businesses that have already committed to the site.

“We are hoping to open the Costco and Target in early 2014,” he said.

In 2004, the Johnson & Johnson campus closed. North Brunswick TOD Associates acquired the property in 2006. Through countless meetings and discussions with the public and township officials, the extensive MainStreetNB plans were finally approved by the township Planning Board in 2010.

“North Brunswick is lucky,” said Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack III. “We were at the right place at the right time with New Jersey Transit and Gov. Christie’s forward thinking of increasing the railroad commerce. We are along the biggest gap that NJ Transit has between the stations in New Brunswick and Princeton Junction. This is an important need.”

The mayor said the flyover track as well as all the planned shops and restaurants will make North Brunswick a destination area.

“In theory, walking in the area will be like walking down Washington Street in Hoboken,” he said. “The officials in North Brunswick are just grateful and we are looking forward to having state officials come down and make an official announcement when the time comes.”

For more information, visit www.ourtowncenter. info.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@gmnews.com.

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