Federal dollars to fund updated MOM railroad study

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the NJ Transit Corp. $534,375 for the development of an Alternatives Analysis/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (AA/DEIS) for the Monmouth Ocean-Middlesex (MOM) passenger rail project.

According to a press release from the senators, this funding will help finance the development of research to rebuild the railroad infrastructure along existing freight lines in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties and construct improved connections to the Northeast Corridor or North Jersey Coast Line.

Through the AA/DEIS for the MOM project, NJ Transit will investigate ridership forecasts, service plans and conceptual stations to create the most efficient ride plans.

Researchers will analyze traffic patterns in areas where new MOM service would cause crossing changes.

Towns that could gain rail service include Lakehurst, Jackson, Lakewood, Howell, Freehold Township, Freehold Borough, Marlboro, Englishtown, Manalapan, Monroe Township, Jamesburg, South Brunswick, Eatontown, Red Bank, and proximate communities in Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex counties, according to the press release.

“Mass transit helps save commuters time and money, and it can be a key component to rebuilding our economy,” said Menendez. “This investment will help NJ Transit lay the groundwork for expanded, more efficient and safer rail service in these counties.”

“Improving mass transportation in New Jersey will create jobs and provide an environmentally friendly option for thousands of commuters in New Jersey,” said Lautenberg. “Modernizing our transportation infrastructure in these communities will provide safe, reliable and efficient transportation options that will attract new ridership and reduce congestion on our roads.”

The possibility of bringing passenger rail service to northern Ocean County, western Monmouth County and southern Middlesex County has been discussed by passenger rail advocates, municipal and county officials, and representatives of NJ Transit for more than 20 years.

Various reports and studies have been conducted, but no construction has ever been started that would bring passenger rail service to the targeted region.