Middlesex freeholder seeks to clarify record on MOM

I would like to respond to the letter to the editor “Middlesex Freeholder Wrong on MOM Rail Line” (News Transcript, June 13) written by Daniel Green, a member of the Ocean County Transportation Advisory Board.

Mr. Green’s letter is critical of my position opposing the waste of public funds on any further study of the Monmouth Junction alignment of the Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex (MOM) passenger rail project. I have no intention of using your opinion page to bandy words back and forth with Mr. Green, but I would like to keep the record clear.

First, Mr. Green claims that professional studies of projected ridership recommend that the MOM line use the Monmouth Junction alignment, through Monroe Township, Jamesburg and South Brunswick in Middlesex County.

He ignores the 2001 study by SYSTRA Consulting Inc., which favored the Matawan alignment and pointed out that the Monmouth Junction route, through Middlesex, was the most expensive of the three alternate proposed routes.

Second, Mr. Green claims that one of his reasons for supporting the Monmouth Junction route is that it would better serve Middlesex County residents. The fact is that none of the three affected Middlesex County municipalities favors the Monmouth Junction alignment.

Mr. Green’s true objective becomes clear when, after admitting that the Matawan and Red Bank routes are both less expensive to build and operate than the Monmouth Junction route, he argues that those routes would make rail travel less convenient for Monmouth County and Ocean County residents.

Third, Mr. Green claims that I am ignoring the long-range transportation needs of Middlesex County. He is apparently unaware that, with my support, a proposal to establish additional buses-only lanes has been implemented on the Route 9 corridor (pursuant to the initial Monmouth Major Investment Study completed in 1996).

He is also apparently unaware that the capacity of the Route 130 park and ride has been doubled by the addition of more than 800 parking spaces. This expansion is to be followed by 150 additional parking spaces and a new park-and-ride area on Applegarth Road in Monroe.

An additional 1,000-space park-and-ride facility on Route 33 is in the works for 2012 when the new Interchange No. 8 and the New Jersey Turnpike expansion are completed.

Further, he must be unaware that Jamesburg is considering another new 300-space park-and-ride area. All of this additional parking will support enhanced commuter-bus transportation. Mr. Green ignores the fact that commuter bus service is more flexible than rail service, which is less able to accommodate shifts in population growth.

Clearly, Mr. Green’s primary concern is the convenience of Monmouth County and Ocean County residents. He has no concern for the impact the Monmouth Junction alignment will have on the residents of Middlesex County, Monroe, Jamesburg or South Brunswick.

He has no concern that the construction of the Monmouth Junction alignment would cost $130 million to $260 million more than the Red Bank or Matawan alignments for MOM. He does not care that the operating costs of the Monmouth Junction alignment would be 17 percent higher than those for the Matawan alignment.

He is not troubled by the fact that the travel time from Lakehurst to Penn Station-Newark would be 13.4 to 15.8 percent longer on the Monmouth Junction alignment than it would be on the Red Bank or Matawan alignments.

I respect Mr. Green’s right to disagree with my opinions, but in this case I would like to make it clear that his disagreement has nothing to do with the welfare of the citizens of Middlesex County, with the efficient use of limited transportation dollars, or, for that matter, with the long-range transportation needs of Middlesex County or anywhere else.

If, as Mr. Green claims, thousands of travelers truly need and want more passenger rail service options, then perhaps he should not continue to obstruct the most effective and feasible means (the Matawan or Red Bank alignments for MOM) to provide those options.

David B. Crabiel


Middlesex County

Board of Freeholders

New Brunswick