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Thu February 18, 2021 - Northeast Edition
The first major step of a $250 million redevelopment of the Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC), the largest transportation hub in Camden County, N.J., was announced Feb. 17 by a host of New Jersey state, county and local officials.
Among them were U.S. Representative Donald Norcross and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, along with New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett, and Camden Mayor Frank Moran.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the design of a new facility to replace the current terminal will be released in the coming weeks. The initial design phase, once commenced, is expected to take approximately nine months to complete.
"This major investment in the Walter Rand Transportation Center will create good-paying construction jobs and ensure that South Jersey residents and essential workers will have access to a safe, reliable and modern transit hub to keep our economy moving," said Norcross.
"It's an honor to celebrate this announcement for a center that is such a vital link for our communities. I commend Gov. Murphy, Camden County and Camden City for their support and efforts to advance this investment in South Jersey's economy, and I will continue to fight at the federal level for additional infrastructure funding."
The WRTC Improvement Project seeks to upgrade and enlarge the existing facility to accommodate the development renaissance currently under way in the city of Camden. With the emergence of a burgeoning educational and health care corridor in the downtown area and surrounding vicinity, a multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the nearby waterfront is being proposed to the west of downtown and the headquarters for both the Campbell Soup Company and Subaru of America to the east.
"In spite of the pandemic's challenges, Camden is a city still on the rise," said Murphy. "Today, we are proud to announce a more than $250 million dollar overhaul of the Walter Rand Transportation Center, which will benefit the people of Camden for decades to come. Any modern city needs a modern transportation hub, and with this investment, we are sending a clear signal that Camden's best days are ahead."
Gutierrez-Scaccetti added, "Providing a clean, comfortable and safe commuting experience for our southern New Jersey customers is NJ Transit's commitment. The Walter Rand Transportation Center Improvement Project will deliver a positive commuting experience to our customers while supporting the continued economic development in Camden."
An expanded multi-purpose transit center in Camden will provide an improved link for transportation in South Jersey. The new center would better accommodate the 26 bus lines that serve the facility; provide improved intermodal connectivity with the PATCO Speedline subway and the River LINE light rail; support intercity independent bus services; and provide additional parking, administrative offices, and value capture retail opportunities to the adjacent growing educational and health care corridor. It also would provide an opportunity for integration with zero-emissions buses.
"The Walter Rand Transportation Center is a vital transit hub and economic engine for all of South Jersey," said Corbett. "The investments committed today by Gov. Murphy will improve safety, support transit-oriented development in Camden, better accommodate growth throughout Camden County, and provide improved connectivity to Camden's medical, educational, and industrial development areas. These investments will also give us an opportunity to integrate the Center with battery electric buses, building on our aggressive efforts to transition toward a zero-emissions bus fleet."
The new WRTC building will provide accommodations for future transit developments and the potential for new retail, office, housing and hospitality opportunities utilizing Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) design standards.
NJ Transit plans to issue an RFP to obtain proposals from qualified professional firms to conduct conceptual design, preliminary engineering, final design engineering, and construction assistance for the WRTC Improvement Project.
The state transit authority recently completed nearly $2.8 million in repairs to the five-story parking deck attached to the WRTC. The improvements made include new electrical, lighting and concrete patching needed to help facilitate future construction at the new transportation center.