NJ Transit gets money for upgrades at Maplewood bus garage, Watsessing Ave. Station

The Hilton Bus Garage on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood will receive $68.1 million from the federal government so it can better handle electric buses.

The Hilton Bus Garage on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood and the Watsessing Avenue Station in Bloomfield will receive money from the federal government to fund improvements.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced last week that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded an additional $425 million in federal transportation dollars to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) for projects as part of the Federal August Redistribution process.

Each year, August Redistribution provides an opportunity for the FHWA to increase spending authority to state DOTs based on the availability of unused funds. Use of these funds must be approved by the FHWA no later than Sep. 30, 2023.

The project to modernize and electrify the Hilton Bus Garage on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood will receive $68.1 million from the federal government.

Watsessing Avenue Station in Bloomfield will receive $31.6 million for renovations that will include new platforms and canopies and installing elevators and ramps to allow for full accessibility. The area around the station has been targeted for transit hub redevelopment.

The FHWA provided $425 million in redistributed spending authority. This is the highest amount since Gov. Murphy took office in 2018. The NJDOT has received $830 million in August Redistribution funds, more than four times the amount in the prior 10 years, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Ultimately, the additional spending will be split, with $315 million for NJ TRANSIT projects and $110 million for NJDOT projects, the release said.

“The support we have garnered from the federal government demonstrates our collective commitment to enhance the vital transportation services upon which our communities depend,” Murphy said.

The NJ Transit Board of Directors had previously awarded a contract to design the infrastructure required for a deployment of battery electric buses at Hilton Garage in Maplewood and conduct a survey of current conditions at all 16 NJ TRANSIT bus garages statewide.

Modern, state-of-the-art infrastructure is needed to support a zero-emissions bus fleet.

The bus garage modernization project will involve the extensive upgrading of existing facilities, including utilities.

“Creating a green, eco-friendly transportation infrastructure is one of NJ TRANSIT’s strategic goals and a critical element to ensure the success of Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan,” said NJ DOT Commissioner & NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “The modernization of the Hilton Garage in Maplewood is an important step in the course of transitioning to zero-emission vehicles.”

Some of the possible improvements at the garages include expanding the footprint of the facilities, roof strengthening for solar systems and power equipment, upgrading the power supply and installing new technologies, including bus charging equipment.

On Jan. 17, 2020, Murphy signed a law that established requirements for NJ Transit to move toward zero-emission bus purchases by 2032. Specifically, all NJ Transit bus purchases made on or after December 2024 must include at least 10% zero-emission buses, escalating to 50% by December 2026 and 100% by December 2032.

The Hilton Garage renovations are scheduled to complete by the end of 2025. The 180,000-square-foot facility serves the Newark region.

Other projects that received some of the redistribution money are an electric bus depot in the Meadowlands, construction of a bus terminal in Passaic, improvements at the Hoboken rail yard and road resurfacing in various locations plus bridge preventative maintenance.