Is Passenger Rail to Eastern PA Dead or Alive?
Today I received a notice from April Niver the economic development coordinator from Congressman Cartwright’s office inviting me and others to a forum with PA Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration’s Acting Administrator next Tuesday. The topic? Commuter Rail.
“Hmmm,” I thought. Just last week I heard that someone in a leadership position in the region had declared passenger rail dead in the Lehigh Valley. Yet, the mayors of the cities periodically come out and support it. So what is it…dead or alive?
Apparently, alive. And, if the Poconos are exploring this idea, doesn’t it make sense that the Lehigh Valley actively be exploring it, too? Commuter rail could be an economic driver to the region, supporting investment in our cities and boroughs. It’s Smart Growth.
Forum On Bringing Commuter Rail Service to Northeastern Pennsylvania via the New Jersey Transit System
Tuesday, October 13, from 1:00 – 3:15 p.m.
The Horizon Ballroom at the Inn at Pocono Manor
1 Manor Drive (off of Route 314), Pocono Manor, PA 18349
Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Transportation, the Honorable Leslie Richards; the Federal Transit Administration’s Acting Administrator, the Honorable Therese McMillan; and representatives from New Jersey Transit will be on hand to listen to community leaders and commuter rail advocates from Monroe County and surrounding northeastern Pennsylvania make the case for extending commuter rail service to Monroe County, connecting northeastern Pennsylvania with the New Jersey rail transit system.
The public is invited to view the proceedings, which begin at 2:00 p.m. and run until 3:13 p.m. The Horizon Ballroom will feature a 150-seat audience section.
There will be a reception prior to the formal presentations from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., also in the Horizon Ballroom.
On the docket is a long-standing proposal to extend the western end of NJ Transit’s Morristown/Montclair-Boonton commuter line by way of the 28-mile stretch of existing rail track bed known as the Lackawanna Cut-Off. In the early part of the 20th century, the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad constructed a level-graded route from Roxbury, NJ to just over the Delaware River in order to serve as a faster, more direct route between existing rail lines in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Lackawanna Cut-Off, as it became known, was unfortunately abandoned in the 1970s, and 28 miles of track were removed.
Over the last couple of decades, however, as commuter traffic from northeastern Pennsylvania to northern New Jersey has increased, leaders in northeastern Pennsylvania have worked on a commuter/passenger rail service restoration initiative. Each day, tens of thousands of people commute east from Monroe and surrounding counties over congested Pennsylvania and New Jersey highways, and this will only grow worse with the widening of the Panama Canal, population growth in northeastern Pennsylvania, and increases in population and job opportunities in New Jersey and New York. With the simultaneous increases in truck traffic that the Interstate 80 areas will inevitably face as a major trucking corridor, an investment in re-completing the former passenger rail line as a commuter route could represent an effective way for both Pennsylvania and New Jersey to meet their surface transportation needs.
Parties interested in this topic are encouraged to attend the 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. reception and to view the 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. presentations on October 13.
If you plan on attending, space is limited, so reach out to April Niver at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know you’ll be there, or call her at 484-546-0776.
RenewLV has a Smart Transportation Committee that is supportive of transportation choice, of us getting around on foot, in a wheelchair, by bike, by bus, by car, by light rail between our cities and by passenger rail. If you’d like to support our efforts, please reach out to me.