EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Travelers in the area should plan ahead, once visitors start heading to New Jersey’s new mega-mall in just a few days.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker found out Tuesday, the American Dream could turn out to be a traffic nightmare.
The area around the mall is already extremely congested. Now, add the predicted 40 million yearly visitors and thousands of mall employees. Rutherford’s Police Chief John Russo said Routes 17 and 3 can’t handle any more cars, especially during rush hour into and out of New York City.
“One minor accident at that intersection, that interchange there, makes an awful commute unbearable,” Russo said.
Extra resources will be required. Transportation expert Janna Chernetz said local commuters will pay the price.
“People who use these roads on a regular basis are going to look for alternate ways. So, roads that might not be congested now you’re going to start seeing people filling up,” Chernetz said.
If you do choose to drive to American Dream, parking is a premium. An eight-hour day will cost you $24.
NY Waterway will run shuttle buses from the Weehawken ferry station to the venue.
The Meadowlands train station is right across the highway from American Dream, but you wont be able to take a train directly to the mall. Those trains only run during special events.
NJ TRANSIT is offering bus service from Secaucus, seven miles away to the mall, but is also looking for “innovators” to join the agency in a public-private partnership to come up with a better plan to transport people. The developer, Triple 5, is not contributing funds, Baker reported.
“NJ TRANSIT doesn’t have the capital, does not have the money, does not have even the operating budget in order to increase capacity to meet that demand,” Chernetz said.
East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella said he’s concerned NJ TRANSIT and Triple 5 are only thinking about getting New Yorkers to New Jersey, but what about getting people in New Jersey to the mall?
“They did same thing with the Super Bowl. They concentrate on everything coming east to west out of New York,” Cassella said.
Most people Baker spoke with said the transportation planners are taking a wait-and-see approach instead of being proactive.
Parking will be free this weekend for the opening of the Nickelodeon Universe theme park and the ice skating rink.