Middlesex freeholder wrong on MOM rail line

In a May 23 News Transcript article, “Middlesex Freeholder Raps Funding for MOM Study,” statements made by Middlesex County Freeholder Director David Crabiel are so outrageous that it is puzzling why they would be published verbatim in Monmouth and Ocean county newspapers without a single word to the contrary.

The Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex (MOM) passenger rail project is vitally needed to alleviate traffic congestion and air pollution and to promote commerce and ease of travel in our large tri-county inland region, now home to a quarter of New Jersey’s population and workforce. The main obstacles it faces are obtaining funding for construction and overcoming the intransigent and intractable opposition of Middlesex County elected officials led by Crabiel.

Controversy still swirls about which existing rail line would be best for MOM trains to follow from Farmingdale to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Monmouth and Ocean counties, backed by the most recent professional studies of projected ridership, are convinced that MOM should run through Freehold, Englishtown and Jamesburg and join the Northeast Corridor in South Brunswick. That route would serve over 100 origins and destinations and would make New Brunswick as well as points south easily reachable.

It is now an established fact that most travelers in New Jersey are not going to New York. But Mr. Crabiel and the officials of South Brunswick, Jamesburg and Monroe Township keep sticking their heads in the sand, refusing to hear that.

They dream up imaginary and ridiculous fears such as school buses being chased and struck by high-speed monster trains – continuing to ignore the exemplary safety record of established routes such as the North Jersey Coast Line. They advocate the Matawan and Red Bank routes only because they do not want MOM in their own back yard.

True, either of those routes would make New York convenient, but they would also make most other destinations impractical – if not impossible – for travelers from inland Monmouth and Ocean counties to reach by train.

The real reason Mr. Crabiel is unhappy that NJ Transit voted to fund completion of the current environmental study is his fear that the South Brunswick route will be found to be the best of the options. All the while, the three towns along that route still loudly cry “Not in my back yard!”

But Mr. Crabiel and a few local officials seem motivated more by the concerns of their friends than by the long-range needs of Middlesex County which he was elected to serve. More and more Middlesex residents are now calling for the MOM line via South Brunswick, for they, too, want more rail options.

It is probably true that this route will be the most expensive to construct, but trains may be expected to serve commuters, families and senior citizens for the next hundred years or more, and it is well worth the expense when this route will take travelers where they really want to go.

It is likely that some of Mr. Crabiel’s blanket opposition to the South Brunswick route may be rooted in ignorance of additional vital information. He seems to accept the myth that MOM will cause a drop in local real estate values, along with the myth that emergency vehicles will be blocked by trains. He has also implied that MOM trains could cause collisions when they cross over other tracks to turn off from the Northeast Corridor. That is false, for there will be an underpass constructed through which southbound MOM trains will cross safely under the other tracks.

Another example of Mr. Crabiel’s grasping at straws to find deficiencies is his laughable assertion that the route to South Brunswick would adversely impact Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Manalapan. That is also false, for the existing rail line has been part of the park’s landscape for over 150 years. That’s right- for over 150 years!

Mr. Crabiel concludes with the rash and outrageous proclamation that the MOM passenger rail line “will never be constructed in Middlesex County.” Perhaps he believes himself to be a prophet, so let him proclaim all he wants and sit down on the railroad track for the short while longer that he is freeholder director.

But the times they are a-changin’, and the thousands of travelers who need and want more options in passenger rail service will not wait forever. The day will come for our MOM.

Daniel Green


Ocean County


Advisory Board