Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Jersey county, township reach short line accord

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Officials from Morris County, N.J., have reached agreement with Roxbury Township counterparts on a $6 million planned reconstruction of four miles of rail line within the municipality.

The Chester Branch line, linking Wharton to Randolph, was one of the $9 million in projects Morris County submitted for payment through the federal stimulus bill.  The reconstruction effort will permit Morristown & Erie Railway, Inc. to serve a lumber dealer in Roxbury.

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Roxbury originally objected to the plan, claiming the rail line activity would decrease safety on a recreation path near Horseshoe Lake, a popular park. Township officials said the rebuilt rail line would operate within three feet of the recreation path. County officials retorted that the township path had been built in part within the railroad right-of-way—private property.

Morris County and Roxbury, located in north-central New Jersey, have signed a 22-point agreement covering various aspects of the rehabilitation effort.

Among other items in the agreement: A new bicycle and pedestrian trail will be built, parallel to and a few feet west of the existing access road; new pavement will be added to the access road to maintain a 20-foot width for vehicles; the county will install a gate near state highway Route 10 to keep vehicles from exiting Route 10 onto the railroad right-of-way; trains operations will occur at between 5 mph and 10 mph on the tracks that front Horseshoe Lake Park; and hours of operation will be restricted to daylight hours, between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., on weekdays.