by Nikita Biryukov, New Jersey Monitor

NJ Transit will abandon plans to construct a gas-burning power plant in Kearny and recommit just over $500 million of funding dedicated to the plant to three other infrastructure projects.

The Kearny project, called the NJ TransitGrid Microgrid Central Facility, was meant to prevent service interruptions during severe weather events like those seen following Hurricane Sandy, but the proposal faced heavy opposition from environmentalists and local advocates who worried about the impacts the plant would have in Kearny and outlying communities.

“This is a victory for the grassroots activists who never stopped pushing the Murphy administration to reject a scheme to place a new fossil fuel project near communities that have suffered from decades of industrial pollution,” said Matt Smith, New Jersey state director for Food and Water Watch. “They did not accept the bogus notion that a fracked gas plant could be a sustainability solution in the midst of a climate emergency.”

NJ Transit said improvements to the state’s power grid had defrayed the state’s need for the Kearny plant, adding the project is no longer financially feasible.

The largest share of the plant’s funding, $240 million, will now go toward the replacement of the aging Raritan River Bridge, a span more than a century old that was damaged during Sandy. Plans for the new bridge have it standing higher above the Raritan and requiring less maintenance to ensure it can open properly.

Another $175 million will go toward the Delco Lead & County Yard Expansion, a train storage facility meant to guard up to 444 of the agency’s vehicles during severe storms and allow rail service to more quickly resume in the aftermath of inclement weather.

The remaining $80 million will go toward filling the Hoboken Long Slip, a 2,000-foot defunct barge canal that acts as a conduit for flooding in the Hudson County city. The filled canal would include new elevated tracks for emergency rail service if a severe storm causes outages on the line’s main tracks.

“While the TransitGrid procurement process provided valuable knowledge for the future, it showed the funding would be better used to protect these other critical points around the state,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “This determination was reinforced by New Jersey’s utilities’ work to strengthen the state’s power grid since Superstorm Sandy.”

Originally published in the New Jersey Monitor. Republished under a Creative Commons license.

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