Garage at NA NJ Transit depot?


As part of its plans to help revitalize the southern end of its commercial district, North Arlington is pitching the idea of building a garage at the NJ Transit bus turnaround on Ridge Road.

Mayor Joseph Bianchi said that tentative plans have been discussed with NJ Transit for a “two-story deck above the existing bus loop,” to accommodate parking for residents, shoppers and employees above and an enclosed area for buses below.

“We need parking at that end of Ridge Road,” the mayor said. “There’s a lot of doctors’ offices, in particular, so the nurses and patients need a place to park.”

And, he added, “If NJ Transit partners with us on this project, I think it would be a home run for them because their buses would be covered. Plus, when it snows, we don’t send a plow to clean out their lot so their buses would be protected by the garage.”

Most likely, Bianchi said, the borough will explore the possibility of financing through the Bergen County Improvement Authority, which may be teaming with Ridgewood in the underwriting of a 325-car parking deck on Hudson St. in the village’s downtown.

If bonds are floated to pay the upfront construction costs, the borough would look to pay off the principal and interest with revenues collected from parking fees, said Bianchi.

Asked for comment, an NJ Transit spokeswoman said: “Representatives from North Arlington approached NJ Transit regarding their plans for the site on Ridge Road. Currently this is a transfer point for NJT buses. The discussion was preliminary. NJ Transit has asked for the borough to provide more details of the proposal. Once we receive that, we will be able to evaluate and consider all of the options.”

Disclosure of the borough’s plans was contained in the December 2015 N.A. Economic Development Report filed with the mayor and Borough Council by their redevelopment

In conversations with NJ Transit’s real estate group and intergovernmental affairs representatives, the borough proposed “acquiring the air rights over the bus depot for the purpose of building a multi-level parking structure,” Ceberio said.

They, in turn, wanted to know who would use the facility, if bus commuters could park there, how potential nearby development would impact it and whether the garage could be tied to other mass transit opportunities, he said.

More specifically, Ceberio said, they “asked for a preliminary engineering design to show there would be enough clearance for the turnaround section of the site and to dedicate sufficient spaces to people using the buses.”

Given that the turnaround serves northbound and southbound commuters, Ceberio said there’s a possibility that the facility could also be tied to Meadowlink/EZ Ride shuttle service making stops at the Harrison PATH or Lyndhurst rail station.

Ceberio said the borough’s “next stop” will be at the BCIA to see if the agency is willing to partner in the project and if it is, “our goal … is to encumber the engineering costs within the potential county participation.”

Although there is an indoor metered parking deck just a block or so from the NJT turnaround, Ceberio said that it is typically “fully utilized.”

Just north of the turnaround is an 18-space outdoor municipal parking lot which, Ceberio said, “could be made part of the garage project” to provide more space.

How many parking spaces the proposed garage would accommodate is still an open question, as is construction cost, Ceberio said. Planners generally use a formula that calculates “$20,000 to $25,000 per space” for deck parking structures, he added.

Asked about the design of such a structure, Ceberio said there is a “potential for a mirror image” of the parking facility planned by Ridgewood.

Meanwhile, Ceberio said that plans for the conversion of the old Bethlehem Street site to a FedEx distribution center are proceeding, with the county planning board expected to meet shortly to review any drainage issues that may cause flooding of properties within two acres of the project site.

“I see no problem whatsoever,” Ceberio said.

He said the project engineer has provided the board with “a model as to how the developer’s drainage system will not impact those properties on Porete Ave.”

And, Ceberio said, in December, the borough planning board approves plans for a new roadway that will link the FedEx site to the Belleville Pike at a point somewhere between the existing Porete Ave. access and the trestle further down the hill.

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