North Jersey Rail Commuter Association

North Jersey Rail Commuter Association
NJRCA members Donald Barnickel (foreground) and Charles Walsh (background) answer questions at NJ Transit's Hoboken Festival in October, 1987.

The North Jersey Rail Commuter Association is a not for profit (501(c)(3)) railroad advocacy organization that was formed and incorporated in the USA in 1980. During its history, the organization and its members have been involved in the successful advocacy of a number of projects involving NJ Transit Rail Operations. NJRCA'as headquarters are located in Knowlton Township, NJ.


Origins and mission

NJRCA's mission is to advocate, in a non-partisan manner, rail projects that benefit New Jersey by educating public officials and the general public. This advocacy includes the preservation of existing rail infrastructure wherever possible; and the initiation, reactivation or augmentation of rail service wherever practicable.

The first NJRCA president, Frederick H. Wertz, helped establish the organization in 1980, which was initially headquartered in Sparta, NJ. Since that time, the organization has helped advocate a number of rail projects in New Jersey.

Rail projects advocated

Over time, NJRCA has advocated a number of projects involving NJ Transit Rail Operations (or other entities), including the restoration of rail service on the Lackawanna Cut-Off; the extension of service to Hackettstown, NJ; creation of Midtown Direct Service (via the Kearny Connection) to New York City; creation of service via the Montclair Connection, the opening of NYS&W railroad service through Northern New Jersey; the building of a NJ Transit rail yard in Morrisville, PA[disambiguation needed ]; and the preservation of the Sussex Branch Trail. The group was also successful in spearheading a 1989 state bond issue that set aside $25 million for the acquisition of railroad right-of-ways in the State of New Jersey. Additionally, the group has advocated for the creation of a railroad and transportation museum in New Jersey and was successful in gaining support for designating the museum jointly in Netcong-Port Morris and Phillipsburg.

Lackawanna Cut-Off project

Promoting the restoration of service on the Lackawanna Cut-Off on-air in 1989 on WFMV, 106.3 FM, a radio station in located in the Blairstown train station (l to r): Lawrence Wills, chairman, Monroe County Railroad Authority; Maurice Lewis, Penn-Jersey Rail Coalition; Frederick H. Wertz and Charles Walsh, NJRCA.

Since its creation in 1980, NJRCA has spearheaded the effort to preserve and reactivate the Lackawanna Cut-Off. In 1979, as a result of a consolidation of Conrail's east-west rail routes, freight service was discontinued on the Cut-Off. This occurred in the aftermath of Conrail's taking over the operation of the line from the Erie Lackawanna Railroad in 1976. Passenger service on the line ceased in January 1970. The discontinuation of freight service on the Cut-Off opened the door for possible abandonment of the route and removal of the tracks on the line.

Removal of narrow overhead road bridges on the Cut-Off, such as this one, the Route 521 bridge over the Cut-Off in Blairstown, NJ, became a major concern after abandonment of the line. When a bridge was functionally obsolete, as this one was, its replacement became a priority, which with an abandoned railroad might lead to the removal of the bridge and filling in and paving the road on top of what would become a blockage to the right-of-way below. One of NJRCA's initiatives was to advocate the replacement of overhead bridges with overhead bridges.

NJRCA participated in meetings that were held between 1980 and 1984 in an effort to obtain funding to purchase the 88-mile (142 km) rail corridor between Port Morris Jct (NJ) and Scranton, PA, which included the 28-mile (45 km) long Cut-Off between Port Morris and Slateford Junction (PA). Funding was sought in New Jersey via the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Morris County Board of Transportation, and the Morris County, NJ Board of Chosen Freeholders; and in Pennsylvania via the Monroe County Railroad Authority (the predecessor of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Railroad Authority). In the end, sufficient funding could not be obtained, and the tracks on the Cut-Off were removed during the summer and fall of 1984. Conrail also indicated that it intended to remove the 60-mile (97 km) stretch of double-track between Slateford, PA and Scranton, PA; however, Conrail was persuaded to only remove only one of the tracks, leaving an intact single-track railroad in Pennsylvania.

In 1985, Conrail announced that it had sold the right-of-way of the Cut-Off to two developers, Gerald Turco and Burton Goldmeier. Goldmeier had acquired the easternmost mile (1.6 km) of the Cut-Off, while Turco had acquired the remaining 26-mile (44 km) section of the line in New Jersey and approximately one mile (1.6 km) section in Pennsylvania. By 1986, Turco had announced a proposal to use the Cut-Off as a source for fill material and to use the "cuts" on the Cut-Off as construction landfills. This triggered a negative public reaction, and a push to have the State of New Jersey acquire the Cut-Off through eminent domain.

From 1987 to 1989, representatives from NJRCA met with public officials in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania in an effort to solidify support for preserving the line and, in New Jersey, to support the creation of a state bond issue to fund the state's acquisition of the Cut-Off. An agreement was struck with then-New Jersey Assemblyman Chuck Haytaian to support the extension of NJ Transit rail service to Hackettstown, NJ in turn for his support of the Lackawanna Cut-Off project and the bond issue. During the same timeframe, NJRCA also met several times with Turco in an effort to dissuade him from pursuing the destruction of the Cut-Off. As such, a state bond issue was successfully approved by the voters in New Jersey in November, 1989, which set aside $25 million for the purchase of rail rights-of-way in New Jersey.

Starting in 1990, the New Jersey Department of Transportation initiated the use of eminent domain against Turco and Goldmeier, resulting in the State of New Jersey acquiring the right-of-way for a total of $21 million.

Railroad museum activities

The Netcong-Port Morris logo showing the three rail routes that could be used from the Netcong-Port Morris site.

With its rich transportation history, and the lack of a unifying entity to preserve it, rail and transportation advocates in New Jersey began seeking support for the creation of a state museum during the 1980s. A state commission[disambiguation needed ] was created in 1986 that was charged with identifying a site and funding for the museum. In 1989, the commission recommended that an unspecified site in Flemington, NJ be designated as the museum's home. With no funding available, however, the idea of creating such a museum was temporarily shelved. By 1996, Walsh had been asked to serve on a newly-constituted state commission that would revisit the creation of a state railroad and transportation museum in New Jersey.

New Jersey State Senator Thomas Gagliano (R-Middlesex) speaks at Netcong Station in May 1988 prior to the New Jersey State Railroad & Transportation Museum Commission boarding an excursion train for Dover, NJ and return. Also in the photo are Morris County Freeholder Patrick Hyland (right) and Frelinghuysen Township, NJ mayor Charles Rydell (left).

Shortly thereafter, NJRCA helped establish the Netcong-Port Morris Site Committee. The N-PM Site Committee's main responsibility was to act as a liasison between the museum commission and the towns—Netcong, NJ and Roxbury Township, NJ—that would be home to the museum. In addition to representatives from NJRCA, the committee had representatives from Netcong Boro and Roxbury Township, members of the railfan community, canal enthusiasts, Amtrak, preservationists, and other ad hoc members from the region.

In October, 1998, the commission's chairman, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, announced that the choice had been narrowed down to three sites in New Jersey: Phillipsburg, Plainfield and Netcong-Port Morris. By the time this announcement was made, it had become clear that the majority of members on the NJ State Railroad & Transportation Museum Commission were in favor of placing the museum in Phillipsburg. Subsequently, in early 1999, DeCroce permitted a vote to take place that designated Phillipsburg as the museum site. Walsh, however, continued to openly support the Netcong-Port Morris site, leading to his not being reappointed to the commission when his term expired later that year. Walsh's seat on the commission was filled by transportation magnate Anthony Imperatore.

Frederick Wertz at the Netcong, NJ train station after greeting members of the New Jersey State Railroad & Transportation Museum Commission in May 1988.

As such, Walsh, in conjunction with NJRCA and the N-PM Site Committee continued to advocate for the Netcong-Port Morris site and in the process gained the support of New Jersey State Senate leader Robert Littell, who at that time was the chairman of the New Jersey Senate Appropriations Committee, and who struck an agreement with DeCroce to amend proposed legislation from the New Jersey General Assembly to designate both Phillipsburg and Netcong-Port Morris as joint sites for the museum. The legislation was subsequently signed into law in 2001. .[1]

Since that time, there has been continued activity within Phillipsburg to attempt to build the museum there, although the originally-envisioned site, which has been privately-owned, was never acquired by the state of New Jersey and has since been designated for other purposes. In Netcong, there has been little activity thus far, although with the reactivation of the Lackawanna Cut-Off it is envisioned that the train station in Netcong could act as the eastern terminus for Steamtown[disambiguation needed ] train excusions from Scranton, PA.

Proposals for current and future projects

In addition to the Lackawanna Cut-Off project, NJRCA had been involved in the advocacy of the ARC Tunnel, including the proposal for run-through tracks at Penn Station, New York and a connection to Grand Central Station. NJRCA has also supported the extension of the New York City Subway's No. 7 line into New Jersey.

NJRCA has also proposed weekend rail service be instituted along the entire length of NJ Transit's Montclair-Boonton Line; that the Montclair-Boonton Line between Great Notch, NJ and Denville, NJ be electrified; and that all or part of NJ Transit's Gladstone Branch be double-tracked.


  1. ^ Senate Bill S1694, session of 2000-2001.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • North Philadelphia (SEPTA Regional Rail station) — North Philadelphia Amtrak station SEPTA Regional Rail commuter rail station North Phi …   Wikipedia

  • North Loop, Minneapolis — North Loop Market Square, Market District Nickname(s): The Warehouse District Location of North Loop within the U.S. city of Minneapolis …   Wikipedia

  • Rail transportation in the United States — Rail transport Operations Track Maintenance High speed Gauge Stations …   Wikipedia

  • Rail transport in the United States — This article is part of the history of rail transport by country series. Today, most rail transport in the United States is based in freight train shipments. Changing U.S. economic needs and the rise of automobile, bus, and air transport led to… …   Wikipedia

  • North American railroad signals — Main article: North American railway signaling Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Color Position Light bracket masts at Magnolia, West Virginia North American railroad signals generally fall into the category of multi headed electrically lit units… …   Wikipedia

  • New Jersey — This article is about the U.S. state of New Jersey. For other uses, see New Jersey (disambiguation). NJ redirects here. For other uses, see Nj (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • New Jersey Transit Rail Operations — New Jersey Transit Rail Operations …   Wikipedia

  • Metro-North Railroad — This article is about the rail service in New York. For the planned Metro North rail line in Dublin, see Dublin Metro. Metro North Railroad Metro …   Wikipedia

  • MBTA Commuter Rail — COMMUTER RAIL MBTA Commuter Rail provides commuter service from Boston as far north as Newburyport, as far south as Warwick, and as far west a …   Wikipedia

  • Hudson–Bergen Light Rail — This article is about a New Jersey light rail system. For the Norwegian light rail system, see Bergen Light Rail. Hudson–Bergen Light Rail Passing trains near Exch …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”