Shortly after beginning proposals for improvements to Liberty State Park (LSP) and the Central RR of NJ Jersey City Terminal we decided to incorporate Liberty Historic Railway (LHRy) as an IRS designated non-profit, public benefit, NJ corporation. Our objectives were to (a) Provide a trolley - rail shuttle the one+ mile distance between the Hudson - Bergen Light Rail LSP station and the CNJ Terminal / Ferry Dock; (b) Provide alternate, environmentally friendly, transport for the auto-dominated / dependant LSP - emphasizing the rail mode which promotes more efficient land use by reducing parking demand within LSP; (c) Provide historically accurate railway / trolley ride experiences; (d) Promote restoration of the seriously deteriorated trainshed to be used as a terminus of the trolley shuttle and for display of rail equipment which formerly used the terminal.
LHRy spent nearly $100,000 to advance the above objectives, including our incorporation on January 29, 2010; a Rutgers University, Bloustein School of Planning, Graduate Student Studio study of LSP transportation needs; an award-winning professional study of the transportation needs for LSP by Sam Schwartz Engineering, which concluded that our trolley shuttle proposal was viable. (This $300,000 study was funded by a grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority through Jersey City Planning.); an extensive website; a comprehensive transportation chronology for the area; promotional materials; Curtis & Ginsburg architechural consultants who updated their 2000 report on the trainshed restoration costs; fundraising consultants Ruotolo Associates who concluded that it would not be feasible or possible to raise the estimated $100,000,000 to restore the trainshed; three separate nominations (2012, 2013, & 2014) to get the trainshed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s most endangered structure list - which all failed.
As we progressed with our objectives the Friends of Liberty State Park organization became increasingly opposed to our trolley shuttle proposal to the point of fanaticism. The final nails in the coffin were hammered in place by Super Storm Sandy, which inundated LSP with four feet of sea water, churned by near hurricane force winds. Almost every first floor window and door of the CNJ Terminal building was blown out and the interior was made a wreck. Unfortunately, the six interpretive pannels of historic Te4rminal photos, installed a month earlier were severely damaged. The photo panels were framed by historic wooden rail passenger car window frames. The storm would have fatally damaged any historic rail equipment displayed at LSP. LHRy soon thereafter ceased all work on our initiatives to improve LSP.
Perhaps in the future LSP stakeholders may come to their senses and realize that the auto will increasingly clog park roads and parking lots, destroying what the public comes to the park to enjoy. And, they may realize that moving people to and from the park by trolley could be the solution. Note: There is a location on the north side of Liberty Science Center for a trolley carbarn which is above flood elevation.