The Township is earmarking $290,000 from the state to make improvements at two pedestrian corridors leading to the Silver Lake Light Rail Station.
The grant from the Safe Streets to Transit program will allow the Township to replace broken and missing sidewalks along Belmont Avenue and Franklin Street.
The funding, through the state Department of Transportation, will also allow the Township to make the areas fully accessible under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Belleville officials are eager to upgrade these walkways with the anticipated influx of riders following the completion of a mixed-use redevelopment project that will soon create 232 residential units across the street from the station on Belmont Avenue.
To ensure work on the walkways is completed prior to the opening of the complex, the Township is also working with the offices of Rep. Albio Sires and Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez to secure Congressional appropriations under the federal “Community Project Funding” allocation.
Creating a safer, more convenient pathway to the station is critically important, as about half of Belleville households own one or fewer vehicles and often rely on public transportation.
The light rail system is a low-cost transit option that quickly connects to Bloomfield and Newark Penn Station, the latter of which links to NJ Transit rail and bus, as well as the PATH train.
News of the grant money arrived after Mayor Michael Melham at the recent Council meeting touted the redevelopment of a 12-acre tract at 675 Main Street – a long-vacant eyesore near the Nutley border – and the redevelopment of the adjacent former Walter Kiddie property as strong, new, tax-generating projects.
“With new developments, we not only clean up contaminated property and get new, increased revenues, but we also have the opportunity to apply and receive more state and federal grants,” Melham said.
“This is the perfect example of local officials working with our state and federal representatives to encourage smart redevelopment coupled with infrastructure improvements. As we continue to steadily redevelop the Silver Lake area, securing even more grants will be a major objective.”