New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chairman James Simpson and NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein joined local, state and federal officials to celebrate the completion of a project that returned a portion of Hoboken Terminal to its original design — restoring permanent ferry service to the historic building. The first boats docked this morning at 6 a.m., launching a new era of mobility and convenience for trans-Hudson commuters.
As part of the opening ceremony, a special inaugural ferry boat ride operated from the newly restored ferry slips, carrying officials and dignitaries on a brief trip up the Hudson River. Following welcoming remarks from Executive Director Weinstein, leaders such as Commissioner Simpson, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Chief of Real Estate and Development Michael Francois, and BillyBey Ferry Company Chairman Bill Wachtel highlighted the benefits of the restored ferry terminal for residents in the region.
The historic, Beaux-Arts style terminal and its ferry slips were originally built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad in 1907. Hoboken ferry service was discontinued in 1967 due to declining demand, but was reintroduced in 1989 at a temporary facility at the southern end of the terminal building.
In early 2003, NJ Transit and the Port Authority entered into an agreement to allow for the restoration of the Hoboken Terminal ferry slips and supporting infrastructure, with the goal of returning ferry service to its original location, while protecting and enhancing the historic elements of the terminal.
The $120 million project, funded through a mixture of state, federal and Port Authority funding, was divided into three phases. The first phase, which began in April 2004 and was completed in September 2005, included repairs to the terminal's substructure and superstructure.
Work on the second phase began in December 2005 and was completed in April 2008, including construction of a 230-foot tall clock tower replica modeled after the original 1907 design by architect Kenneth Murchison. In homage to the original, the clock tower includes four-foot-high copper letters spelling out the word "Lackawanna" and is surmounted by an illuminated clock with four 12-foot diameter faces, one on each side of the tower.
The second phase also included marine construction of five of the original six ferry slips, as well as restoration of the exterior copper facade and lighting on the river side of the terminal, structural repairs, roof repairs and demolition of the finger piers and wooden fenders.
Construction of the ferry boarding area was completed in the third and final phase, along with all remaining work necessary to restore ferry service to the original slips, including work on utilities, lighting, the ticketing area, ferry barges and gangways.
NY Waterway, owned and operated by Port Imperial Ferry Corp and Billybey Ferry Co., will be providing service from the ferry slips. NY Waterway provides the largest privately-owned commuter ferry service in the United States, carrying 35,000 passenger trips per day – 8 million trips per year, including service between New Jersey and Manhattan.
Hoboken Terminal currently provides travelers multiple transit options including commuter rail, light rail, bus, PATH and ferry service. Nearly 60,000 people use the terminal on a typical weekday.
"This restored Hoboken Ferry Terminal is a key intermodal hub that provides robust transportation services and vital trans-Hudson connections to thousands of New Jersey residents," said Commissioner Simpson.
"The completion of this project has restored ferry service to the terminal's original slips for the first time in more than four decades, offering expanded ferry service and greater convenience for customers," said Weinstein. "We appreciate the Port Authority's support from the early phases of the project to completion, and are proud to be part of a great example of a cooperative effort between two public agencies coordinating with the private sector to benefit New Jersey commuters."
"The restoration of ferry service into the original slips at the Erie Lackawanna terminal will allow for expansion of NY Waterway ferry service and greater flexibility in providing commuters and leisure-travelers a reliable, convenient and carefree mode of transportation into Manhattan," said Paul Goodman, CEO of Billybey Ferry Company.
"The revitalization of Hoboken's historic rail terminal, the restoration of the original ferry slips and expansion of ferry service further cements Hudson County's proud distinction as a top regional transportation hub, and as a critical economic engine for the metropolitan area," stated Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise.
"The Hoboken Ferry Terminal restoration project has helped to preserve the city's past while paving the way for the future," said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "This restored, enhanced facility will ensure that Hoboken Terminal remains a bustling transit hub that spurs our region's economic development for generations to come."