Byram trashes state plan to revive rail link

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    BYRAM-Although Byram officials formally invited transit officials, every mayor in Sussex, Morris, and Warren counties, and over two dozen state officials, not one attended the meeting. Out of the 27 residents who expressed their opinions during the meeting, 19 were opposed to the railroad citing different reasons such as the potential for the trains to haul garbage through the area. Six people took the opportunity to express support for the measure. They said the rail service would help local commuters and reduce the amount of traffic on area thoroughfares. In June the NJ Transit Authority hosted a similar meeting at a local restaurant. At that time, residents presented a list of concerns, which transit officials said would be answered at a later date. To this day, residents claim, no answers have been received from the state agency. According to some of the people in attendance at the June meeting, transit officials assured residents that the state had no plans to haul garbage on transit trains running through the area if the cutoff were rebuilt. However, they declined to make a formal guarantee. After the public hearing portion of Monday night's meeting, the members of the township council directed the township manager to draft a resolution expressing the council's opposition to the rail project. Officials and residents acknowledge however, that the resolution will do little to stop the proposed state project. "Our freeholders got us into this position today," said Byram Councilman Lou Esposito, Jr., encouraging residents to write to their elected government officials expressing opposition to the Byram-The consensus of both area residents and Byram Township officials is that they do not want to see trains full of trash running through their community. At Monday night's special council meeting held at the Cranberry Lake Firehouse, nearly three quarters of residents in attendance said no to a proposal by the New Jersey Transit Authority that would revive the Lackawanna Cutoff Railroad System. Many of those who opposed the project said they were fearful that the proposed railroad could one day be used to transport New York and New Jersey garbage to Pennsylvania landfills. The railroad system, which once connected Pennsylvania and New York, passed through areas of Sussex, Morris, and Warren Counties. Remnants of the systems can still be found today throughout the area. Although the rails were shut down nearly 30 years ago, the NJ Transit Authority has recently expressed an interest in bringing the system back on line. Weeks ago, members of the Byram Township Council decided to take the pulse of their community on whether the municipality should support or oppose the project. The Byram council scheduled the open public meeting held earlier this week, and vowed to support the will of the public.