Anti-MOM rail line unacceptable to freeholder

By now, everyone should know all the reasons for building the MOM rail line, but here is the explanation again:

Taken together, Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties are home to more than one in five New Jersey residents. These counties have been the major engines for population growth over the last 30 years, with the majority of growth being concentrated in the suburban municipalities along the Route 9 corridor in northern Ocean and western Monmouth and Middlesex.

In this area, the car is king and roads are choked at peak commuter hours, because there is no mass transportation alternative other than bus service on Route 9.

The purpose of the MOM line is to take some of the pressure off of these roads. But it is also far more than that. It provides a real opportunity for those one in five New Jersey residents to have rail access to not only New York City, but to the educational resources in New Brunswick, the state capital in Trenton and the city of Philadelphia.

This option (Lakehurst to Monmouth Junction) provides the greatest range of opportunities for people in the major growth corridor in the state and, while initial costs may be high, as population continues to grow and the use of resources expands accordingly, the cost per person will reduce over time. All of this makes the MOM line the right choice for New Jersey.

But now, NJ Transit has decided to support the anti-MOM alternative. This proposal meets the needs of Ocean County residents bound for New York, but it does nothing for either western Monmouth County or Middlesex County residents, and provides no access to either New Brunswick or Philadelphia.

It also does unquestionable harm to the densely developed residential communities of eastern Monmouth County – particularly Red Bank.

Red Bank Mayor Pat Menna’s plea for help to oppose this alternative shall not go unanswered. A 20 percent increase in train traffic will exacerbate already difficult road conditions and make an already constrained parking capacity in Red Bank far more problematic.

Red Bank is one of the most successful suburban centers in New Jersey, and is currently wrestling with its own share of development issues. For external forces to suddenly impose unplanned impacts on this community for the primary benefit of residents of another county is wholly unacceptable.

When the costs and benefits are weighed in terms of opportunities lost and damages done, the anti- MOM option is far too expensive to be considered, even with a someday-western spur. It is shortsighted and irresponsible. Discussion of rail options should cease until new leadership with a broader statewide vision is put in place.
Lillian G. Burry
Monmouth County Freeholder
Liaison to the Monmouth
County Planning Board
Freehold Borough