The 12th District Legislators and local officials in Monmouth County are pleased to learn that NJ Transit has not made a final decision to run the Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex rail line through Red Bank Borough, and join them in continuing to vehemently oppose the plan.
“This plan to bring more trains through Red Bank simply causes a redundancy,” said Senator Jennifer Beck. “We have rail service here, and I have always been under the impression that the MOM line was supposed to provide rail service to places that don’t have it. Yes, the plan will provide service to Ocean County municipalities that currently do not have rail service, but it will also drastically impair the areas already coping with heavy traffic in addition to railroad crossings.”
Beck, along with Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande believe that any plan that would not serve the intended purpose of the original MOM line plan should be taken off the table for consideration. The only plans that should be considered would be ones that would build a rail line that would serve western Monmouth County, an area not currently served by NJ Transit rail.
“The Red Bank plan won’t meet the original intention of the MOM rail line,” said O’Scanlon. “It will back up traffic in all directions in Red Bank and surrounding towns, since it will be less than a mile from the existing tracks. This plan is un workable and should be removed from consideration altogether.”
“Western Monmouth County is continuing to thrive and expand,” said Casagrande, “and a rail line is needed in that area. If a line that would do what the MOM line was originally intended to do cannot be built, then why build any line at all? It’s an expensive proposition, without fulfilling the needs that it was originally proposed to satisfy, and not is the worst time to be taking on such a pointless task.”
Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna, Shrewsbury Mayor Terrell Cooperhouse, Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon, Little Silver Mayor Suzanne Castleman, and Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre have all voiced serious concerns about the impact this line would have on their municipalities.
“This is the wrong plan at the wrong time for Red Bank,” said Menna. “If this plan goes through, it will undo all the work we’ve done to help bridge the east side/west side divide perceived in our Borough. To add another rail crossing within 1/5 of a mile from the existing one will only make it less appealing to travel from one side of town to the other. This will kill the sense of community that has really been building in the last few years.”
“This is a bad plan on several fronts,” said Cooperhouse. “Traffic on Sycamore Avenue is already terrible, with traffic backing up between Route 35 and the Little Silver Train Station. Add another rail line, and it will go from bad to worse. This is a quality of life issue for all residents in the area.”
“We need to see traffic in the area alleviated,” said Castleman, “not worsened. When you’re dealing with multiple train stations and rail crossings in a small area, it’s a domino effect. No one would be able to move.”
“It’s ridiculous,” said Halfacre. “The easy answer is to go back to what the original purpose of the line was, which was to provide a service to commuters who do not currently have rail service to their area. The traffic is bad enough around here without adding an additional 40 trains a day.”
“A new rail line should serve the greatest need of the commuters,” said Mahon, “and it should be set in the most direct path possible. The original MOM line seemed to fit that criteria, and the plan through Red Bank does not. “This deviation fails to meet the needs of the intended ridership where it can provide the greatest benefit.”