Courier News (Bridgewater), Nov. 18, 2004(From gsenet.org)
NJ TRANSIT PROPOSES RAIL LINE TO ALLEVIATE RT. 206
by Larry Higgs
Residents and riders will have a chance to comment about NJ Transit's
latest proposal to restore passenger rail service to the now only
freight West Trenton Line, which parallels Route 206 through
Hillsborough and Montgomery. Transit advocates also have suggestions
about how to improve the service so more people will ride it and how
it could remove some traffic from Route 206.
Two public forums are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 1. One will
be at the Hillsborough Municipal Building, 279 S. Branch Road, and the
other will be at the Department of Transportation headquarters, 1035
Parkway Ave., Ewing.
"It's an opportunity to get community input before finalizing our
decision," said Janet Hines, NJ Transit spokeswoman.
The 21.5-mile West Trenton Line is currently a single-track freight
railroad owned by CSX Corp. People attending the forums will be able
to look at NJ Transit's current plans to restore service, build five
stations -- including one in the Belle Mead section of Hillsborough
and at the Merrill Lynch corporate campus in Hopewell.
The line would connect to the Raritan Valley Line between Finderne and
Bridgewater stations by an overpass that would take passenger trains
over another freight rail line.
The estimated $195 million to return service includes the cost of
restoring the Belle Mead Station and building four new stations and
parking; a passing siding; a train yard in West Trenton; and the
overpass to connect to the Raritan Valley Line.
Initial plans call for NJ Transit to run five rush-hour trains in the
morning to Newark and five in the evening; a peak hour train from
Newark to West Trenton to serve the Merrill Lynch complex in Hopewell;
a return trip from West Trenton in the evening; and a mid-day train,
That service could be improved to get more cars off Route 206, said
representatives of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers
and the Committee for Better Transit.
Their idea calls for using smaller diesel-powered rail cars to provide
shuttle service between West Trenton and Bridgewater and to have
connecting buses at Bridgewater to take people to some office parks
and shopping areas.
"I'm proposing more than an isolated service to a usable service that
would take some drivers off Route 206," said Ralph Braskett, state
coordinator for the Committee for Better Transit.
His idea calls for hourly shuttles and Saturday service between
Bridgewater and West Trenton and using buses to connect passengers at
Bridgewater with shopping areas, the Bridgewater Commons mall and
nearby office parks. "The argument for the West Trenton Line was to
take pressure off Route 206," Braskett said. "To make it work, we need
bus connections at both ends."
Larry Higgs can be reached at (908) 707-3134 or [email protected].