Gottheimer Leads Bipartisan Sussex County Leaders on Effort to Accelerate Andover Rail Station Project

Jun 22, 2017
Press

Gottheimer, State Senator & Assembly Reps, Mayors Demand Update and Action on Project Delays

Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that he led a bipartisan group of Sussex County Mayors, Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus and Assemblyman Parker Space in a push to accelerate the completion of the Andover Rail Station. Gottheimer, Oroho, Phoebus, Space, and 11 Sussex County Mayors wrote to the Executive Director of NJ Transit and the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, requesting an update on the project and an accounting for its delays.

Last month, NJ Transit failed to clarify the status of the project when asked to address its outstanding issues. This letter demands an explanation for these delays as well as swift action on the project, particularly in light of the project’s already-allocated federal investment. With this letter, federal, state, and local partners are in a united front to cut through the red tape and move forward with this critical transportation project for the region.

“I cannot emphasize enough how critical strategic infrastructure improvements like this are to helping our constituents, local businesses and our economy,” wrote Congressman Josh Gottheimer and the local leaders. “This project already has a federal funding commitment, and we must keep it on schedule to keep that investment in the Fifth District. The completion of the Andover Station will bring a much-needed boost to federal return on investment in Northern New Jersey.”

The letter was signed by New Jersey State Senator Steve Oroho, Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus and Assemblyman Parker Space. The Mayors who signed the letter include Republicans Tom Walsh of Andover Township, James Ayers of Frankford Township, Nick Giordano of Franklin Borough, Stanley Kula of Hardyston Township, Gene Crawford of Montague Township, Fred McDonald of Sandyston Township, Victor Maglio of Walpack Township, Harry Shortway of Vernon Township, non-partisan Sandra Diglio of Newton, and Democrats Katherine Little of Sussex Borough, and Anthony Frato of Branchville.

Full text of the letter is below.

June 20, 2017

Mr. Steven H. Santoro
Executive Director
New Jersey Transit
One Penn Plaza East
Newark, NJ 07105-2246

Dear Executive Director Steven Santoro:

We write today to request an update on the Andover Township Train Station in Sussex County and New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District. As leaders of the local area, we are deeply concerned that this important project is being bogged down with delays and roadblocks. Your team has been working with local and state officials, but I cannot emphasize enough how critical this strategic project is to our constituents, local businesses and our economy. We respectfully request a timely update that explains the current delays for the project before your agency and reasons for those delays. We are committed to working with everyone involved to make certain federal funds are directed towards this important infrastructure project for the Fifth Congressional District.

The Andover Township Train Station will restore more than seven miles of train tracks between the Port Morris rail yards and Andover Township. As you know, these tracks will connect NJ Transit’s Morris and Essex lines providing commuters in Sussex County with a direct line into Hoboken and New York Penn Station. Additionally, the Andover Township station is a key piece of the overarching goal to restore service to the Lackawanna Cut-Off in New Jersey. This proposed extension would provide for nearly one hundred and fifty daily passengers at the Andover Train Station, benefiting the region’s economy for both commuters and travelers, improving access to job opportunities, easing travel concerns, and mitigating environmental and traffic issues by taking cars off of our roadways.

Knowing that the project must stay on track, it is imperative that New Jersey Transit and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection work together towards its completion for the good of Sussex County. Delays put in danger federal funds that have also been secured to make this economic development project a reality. We recognize that NJ Transit has worked with NJDEP to meet its requirements, including spending nearly $1.4 million to purchase wetlands offsets. Now, it has come to our attention that there is a delay related to the soundness of the culvert located on Hudson Farms. However, this project already has a federal funding commitment, and we must keep it on schedule in order to keep that investment. The completion of the Andover Station will bring a much-needed boost to federal return on investment in Northern New Jersey, which we believe you value as well.

We urge your immediate attention to this project and look forward to hearing an update from you on the Andover Township Train Station.

Sincerely,

Josh Gottheimer
MEMBER OF CONGRESS

Senator Steve Oroho
Assemblywoman Gail Phoebus
Assemblyman Parker Space

Mayor Tom Walsh of Andover Township
Mayor Anthony Frato of Branchville
Mayor James Ayers of Frankford Township
Mayor Nick Giordano of Franklin Borough
Mayor Stanley Kula of Hardyston Township
Mayor Sandra Diglio of Newton
Mayor Gene Crawford of Montague Township
Mayor Fred McDonald of Sandyston Township
Mayor Katherine Little of Sussex Borough
Mayor Harry Shortway of Vernon Township
Mayor Victor Maglio of Walpack Township

CC: Commissioner Bob Martin, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protectio

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