Smith, Saxton to Gov. Corzine: Keep Both M's in 'MOM' Line
Congressmen Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Jim Saxton (NJ-03) have asked New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine to reconsider his plan to eliminate the Middlesex portion of the Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex (MOM) Passenger Rail Line.
The MOM Alternatives Analysis received $2.5 million in the 2005 highway and transit bill, and nearly $1 million in the 2008 transportation budget to complete the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
"Since the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act in 1991, we have worked diligently to secure federal funding for the MOM Line," the letter stated. "Federal guidelines require a preferred alternative to be decided upon prior to completion of the DEIS. Not following this designated process aimed at determining a preferred environmentally sound alternative could put scarce federal dollars for our state at risk. This is especially important as Congress moves toward reauthorizing our transportation programs and as New Jersey undertakes major projects such as the Hudson River Tunnel, the Lackawanna Cutoff, and the MOM Line."
The letter points out that residents of all three counties have expressed significant support for the Lakehurst-Monmouth Junction routes, and data indicates this route will experience the greatest number of riders. Prematurely ruling it out before the DEIS is finished seems counterproductive.
"It is essential that the DEIS properly move forward so that the people of Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties are given the opportunity to examine and review this issue in an open, public hearing setting. There is a consensus that we must work to reduce traffic congestion in this still, rapidly-growing, three-county region in Central New Jersey, and I believe by providing citizens the opportunity to offer their insight, we will have a greater chance at identifying a solution that will benefit the public and incorporate our shared environmental concerns," said Rep. Smith.
"It is the government's responsibility to develop public transportation alternatives for areas experiencing growing populations, such as Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties," Saxton said. "Where public transportation can be an alternative, it can reduce traffic and pollution."
The MOM line is expected to relieve traffic congestion in the region, the fastest growing area in central New Jersey. The Line would extend passenger rail service from New York City, Newark, and other urban areas of North Jersey into Central New Jersey, according to State and local planners.
Smith and Saxton helped authorize the project in 2004 legislation which authorized MOM and other federal transportation projects across the country. The bill allowed them to seek appropriations over six years. The final potential stop of the MOM Line would be Lakehurst Borough, which is home to a U.S. Navy base, the Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station (NAES), the largest employer in Ocean County. Lakehurst Navy base is situated adjacent to an Army base, Fort Dix, and Air Force facility, McGuire Air Force Base.