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Proposal to ease traffic for the Marion section

It's been 33 years since the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey built a new station for its Trans-Hudson rail system - a fact that is not derailing Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy in his quest for a PATH station in the Marion section of the city.

"We want to encourage people to use mass transit rather than all these motor vehicles that are clogging the daylights out of the county, the city and the state," Healy said.

With some 1,000 units of housing slated for the largely residential area, city officials are pushing into high gear to convince the Port Authority to add an above-ground station at the corner of Broadway and West Side Avenue, an idea that the agency is decidedly cool to.

In March, the City Council passed a resolution requesting a station there and Healy is scheduled to meet with Port Authority officials to further discuss the proposal.

The Marion section is only several blocks from the Journal Square PATH station but buildings along Tonnelle Avenue prevent easy access, forcing commuters to take circuitous routes to and from the PATH train.

Councilman Steve Lipski, who represents portions of the Marion section, says the Port Authority should provide a PATH station because, in his view, the agency's payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) for facilities such as the Holland Tunnel and the Journal Square Transportation Center are lower than they should be.

According to Healy, the Port Authority pays about $800,000 a year for all its properties.

"While we greatly appreciate having a PATH train, we know they (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) are giving far greater amounts of money to Newark," Lipski said.

Marc Lavorgna, a spokesman for the Port Authority, said that while agency officials are looking forward to discussing the proposal with the mayor, the opening of a new PATH station is not part of the its long-term capital budget.

He declined to comment on the agency's PILOTs.

One official familiar with the project suggested asking developers to pay a portion of the construction cost since a new PATH station would likely add to the value of nearby property.

Roughly 500 units are in the works for the American Can site on Dey Street and 239 condominium units are planned for the old Volkswagen showroom on Kennedy Boulevard.

But both Lipski and Healy oppose the idea of asking developers to contribute to mass transit projects.

"When developers come in, we look for them to do their portion on buildings, new sidewalks and open space," Lipski said. "The Port Authority is not going to get off the hook so easily."

James McCann, an attorney for the developers of the American Can site, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Residents and business owners interviewed in the Marion section recently generally embraced the idea of a PATH station.

"The Marion section needs a lot: development and a school," said George Taite, who grew up on Wales Place and is one of the owners of Puccini's Restaurant on West Side and Broadway. "A transportation hub would help the area and all of those things help business and the people in the area."

But Chris Nardone, the owner of N. Nardone Equipment & Supplies, which has been in business on Broadway for 21 years, feared a PATH station would create a nightmarish parking situation.

"It'll be crazy here with the parking and people in and out," he said. "I'm going to close this place and open a deli, like the lady at the Hoboken PATH station."

© 2006  The Jersey Journal

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