NYS&W rail plan still under way

Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2002 by New Jersey Herald Webmaster

By RUSS FLANAGAN
Herald Staff Writer

A spokesman for NJ Transit said Tuesday plans to run a commuter rail line along the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway are still under way despite published reports to the contrary.
Published reports Monday said budget woes with the state and NJ Transit derailed plans to start a commuter rail line linking northwest New Jersey with Hoboken.
But Ken Miller, a spokesman for NJ Transit, said Tuesday engineering and environmental work is still being done on the project.
“We are still advancing pieces of the project,” Miller said.
According to the reports, Morris County Transportation Director Frank Reilly said the project was “inactive’ and not likely to get rolling. A spokesperson for the Morris County Transportation Department said Reilly was on vacation for the next several weeks and could not be reached for comment.
While Miller conceded the state and NJ Transit were having financial difficulties, he said that does not necessarily mean all long-term projects have been scrapped. He said NJ Transit will instead concentrate on improving its core system which includes upgrading existing infrastructure.
“As we begin to resolve these issues we’ll look to advance other projects,” Miller said.
Sussex County Freeholder Director Susan Zellman, vice chairwoman of the Project Prioritization Committee of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, said Tuesday she had not heard of plans to permanently scrap the project.
However, she said costly bridge repairs and other upgrades to existing infrastructure in northern New Jersey have created an intense competition for transportation dollars.
“I would certainly be disappointed” if the project was canceled,” Zellman said. “Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
The NJTPA could not be immediately reached for comment.
The $47 million commuter-freight rail line would makes stops in Sparta and Hardyston in Sussex County and run along Route 23 in Passaic before linking with the Bergen main line.

One of the stumbling blocks in moving the project forward has been the ongoing negotiations between NJ Transit and Delaware-Otsego Co., which owns the NYS&W. The line is currently operated as a freight line and NJ Transit would have to work out a deal to buy or lease the tracks. Part of the deal would also have to include an agreement that would allow both commuter and freight trains to use the tracks simultaneously or let passenger trains operate exclusively.
Miller said there have been no recent discussions between NJ Transit and Delaware-Otsego.

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