It’s not MOM’s day just yet in South Brunswick

NJ Transit line not supported by mayor, despite new study

BY CHRIS MURINO Staff Writer

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – A ridership study released on Dec. 13 by NJ Transit said that the proposed Monmouth-Ocean- Middlesex (MOM) line that would run from Lakehurst to Monmouth Junction to the Northeast Corridor line and then to New York would have the highest daily ridership out of the three current options at 27,450.

The Lakehurst to Matawan route had a projected daily ridership of 24,050, while the Lakehurst to Red Bank choice had one of 16,800.

NJ Transit spokesman Joe Dee said that this does not mean it will be chosen as the best route.

“The ridership is just one part of the analysis,” Dee said. “The analysis is going to be much broader, including factors such as the cost to build, parking and traffic circulation, and which alternate attracts the most new customers.”

New customers would be ones that currently use automobiles and not NJ Transit.

South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese is not pleased with the studies and opposes the proposed line.

“We don’t care what kind of study they come up with,” he said. “They’re flawed and don’t consider one important factor: the line going through South Brunswick is themost expensive of the three lines. The expense to the state of New Jersey and the expense to the taxpayers of New Jersey are astounding as opposed to the other lines. It doesn’t make sense when the state is in asmuch financial trouble as it’s in.”

Gambatese said that the Monmouth Junction line would cost $250 million more than the other lines.

He continued to disagree with the studies, as well.

“If South Brunswick did a study, we’d have a totally different answer than what is coming out, because we’d hire the people we want to say what we want.”

Gambatese said he has talked to others who would be affected by the line and they agree.

“I talked to Mayor Richard Pucci [of Monroe] and he said ‘this is ridiculous and we will not allow it to occur,'” Gambatese said. “We will fight it forever. This is not acceptable to us.”

Gambatese also does not agree with the layout of the line. The Monmouth Junction route would allow riders to go north as far as New York and south as far as Philadelphia.

“It would make a heck of a lot more sense to go in a direct line,” he said. “To comewest to go northmakes no sensewhatsoever.”

This new study now took into account that the line would be going into NewYork, which is part ofARC (Access to the Region’s Core).

“ARC is a project that includes two new commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River,” Dee said.

There are currently two tracks and this project would add an additional two.

NJ Transit expects to meet with the towns that would be affected by any new rail line in early 2008. A draft environmental impact study on the proposed routes is also expected sometime in 2009.

The ridership survey was approved the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. According to Dee, the surveys are based on demographics and projected population growth.