Just a day after the announcement of a so-called compromise transit plan that would have directed a new commuter rail line into Red Bank, the Monmouth County Freeholders flatly rejected the idea, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.
The move appeared to isolate deputy freeholder director John D’Amico, one of the majority Democrats on the board, who had expressed support for the plan with New Jersey Transit.
According to Press reporter Larry Higgs,
D’Amico backpedaled, saying his support for the Red Bank route was only conditional because the transit agency “has made its mind up” against rail options relying on routes through Middlesex County.
Republican Freeholders Lillian G. Burry and Robert D. Clifton said they would not support the Red Bank route and D’Amico failed to gain backup from his two Democratic colleagues at the board meeting at the Hall of Records.
Burry said a Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex, or MOM, rail project has been talked about for years.
“I myself have been involved with this for four or five years and the Red Bank line was never under consideration,” Burry said. “It would place such a tremendous impact on Red Bank in extra congestion.
“This option does nothing for western part of the county, and that was supposed to be the whole idea of the project. It’s good for Ocean County but not western Monmouth County.”
It appears, however, that the so-called Red Bank alternative is far from a doomed idea. No formal indication of support is needed by NJTransit to move ahead with the plan, spokesman Joe Dee told the Press.
“At this point we’ll continue to work with communities we committed to work with,” Dee said. “Ultimately we know there are many stakeholders, including individual communities such as Red Bank and the three counties, who will need to be comfortable with what alternatives advance.”
While Dee said that NJ Transit will continue to work with all parties toward that goal, he would not say what, if any, formal commitment NJ Transit would require from the counties.
Meanwhile, Monmouth County legislators joined Red Bank officials in opposing the Red Bank route. Red Bank officials are concerned about additional trains blocking crossings at major streets, which happens when trains make station stops there.
“”This is the least desirable of all of the options that have been looked at,” said state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth and a Red Bank resident. “It’s not just Red Bank, but Shrewsbury, Tinton Falls, Little Silver and Fair Haven that will have to deal with increased traffic and fewer available parking spaces for more riders.”
Beck and her Assembly counterparts, Caroline Casagrande and Declan O’Scanlon, said in a release that without going to to western Monmouth County and into Middlesex, this rail line will have completely missed its purpose.