Official Rahway Valley Thread

Discussion about the M&E, RVRR and SIRR lines of New Jersey, and also the Maine Eastern operation in Maine. Official web site can be found here: www.merail.com.

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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby Sirsonic » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:01 pm

Since you seem to know then, please account for the millions of dollars allocated to "finish" the SIRY, including installing grade crossing warning signals. Only 1 crossing had any protection installed. Where did the money go since it obviously wasn't used on the railroad?

If you can explain that, then can you also please explain how the M&E ran out of money before finishing the SIRY or the RV when public statements made by officers of the M&E during construction were to the effect that the condition of the SIRY was so much better than expected that they would not need additional funding to restore service to Summit. Or why the SIRY bridge over Amtrak was cited as a significant cost for the project, even though the needed work was never done to the bridge.
Proven Theory #2 - If you don't work for the railroad, you don't know more than the people who do, no matter how many years you've hung around the tracks, or how well you think you understand railroading.

Rest in peace Jtgshu.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby Sirsonic » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:08 pm

Specifically, Gordon Fuller, then M&E Railway president was quoted in the Star-Ledger on July 25, 2004 as having said
"Fuller said that the cost of repairing the Staten Island line ran substantially below initial estimates. As a result, there may be enough money left in the $7.5 million transportation fund to complete all the track work from Cranford to Summit.

However, crossings and signals can be extremely expensive. Depending on which systems state officials select, it could make the difference in whether there are sufficient funds to complete the project, he said. "

Later on however, the M&E would claim there was not even enough money left to install any crossing signals and that they never expect to finish the project with the money originally allocated. Again quoting Mr Fuller who was again quoted by the Star-Ledger on January 15, 2006
"It was never contemplated that $7.5 million (in the original contract) would reactivate 14 miles of railway, especially with all those road and highway crossings," Fuller said.

Once the original funding dried up, and after some time, the State of New Jersey allocated another $2.9 million to "finish" work on the SIRY and install grade crossing warning signals. Again, Mr Fuller was quoted in the Star-Ledger, this time on December 19, 2007
"Gordon Fuller, chief operating officer of the Morristown & Erie Railway, which was contracted by Union County to rehabilitate the two lines, said the $2.9 million needed to complete the Staten Island portion was not released until three weeks ago, six months after state transportation officials approved the funding.

"By July, we'll be running real trains," Fuller said.

Now that the M&E has the funds to pay for signal crossing systems, it can order the materials, he said. Some final work tamping the rail bed to get it in shape for regular train runs also needs to be done.
While most of the rail crossings on the 7-mile line do not involve major roadways, the line does cross South Avenue in Cranford, one of the heaviest-traveled east-west arteries in the county.

Fuller said the South Avenue crossing would be getting signal gates that would be visible from a considerable distance to give motorists sufficient warning of a train crossing."

On April 22, 2009, again in the Star-Ledger, the issue of a suspension or stoppage of work was adressed, and it was made clear that only the work on the RV was suspended. Quoting the article:
"While the M&E initially began repair work on both the SIRR and the Rahway Valley Line, the state ultimately restricted all recent funding for the project to be used only for the SIRR portion.
The state has given no indication when work would resume on the Rahway Valley Line."
Proven Theory #2 - If you don't work for the railroad, you don't know more than the people who do, no matter how many years you've hung around the tracks, or how well you think you understand railroading.

Rest in peace Jtgshu.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby cjl330 » Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:44 pm

As I stated in my previous post, everything was overseen by the County Manager and the Commissioner/Director of the DOT. You are basing all of your complaints on public statements Gordon Fuller made to newspapers (I agree with you, he was full of it). When the project first began, Union County publicly stated to all of the local newspapers that the brush cutting taking place and the weed killer being sprayed on the rail lines was purely for pest control purposes, and there were absolutely no plans to reactivate the rail lines. They were full of it too. You are correct about the grade crossing signals, they never arrived. That was around the same time that all funding for the project was halted. I’m not sure if that “additional” funding ever arrived. If there was any criminal activity involved in this project, indictments would have been handed down long ago, and politicians would have been involved. If you remember, this project started over 8 years ago. It didn’t take long in the most recent case. The state quickly arrested and indicted a high ranking state official and his partner for trying to entice the M&E in a state funding scam. In related news, the estimated cost for extending the Lackawanna Cutoff 7.5 miles by NJT is $35 million (so far). I would like to know how the reactivation of 7.5 miles of rail line cost 35 million dollars.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby CJPat » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:56 am

Two allotments of funds, $7.5M & $2.9M were authorized for use as identified in Sirsonic's previous post. I think it is obvious to all that there is much work required to actually reach a "finished" state. The $2.9M Additional funds being granted does not necessarily mean that the $7.5 M of funds were fully used or exhausted, in that it is not too uncommon to have several blocks of funds that need to be established for a project and money from the various blocks can be utilized without previous blocks being used up.

I have not seen or read anywhere where that all the money was actually invoiced and paid to M&E. Clearly we saw a lot of PR smoke from Mr. Fuller over the years regarding actual progress and completion. But regardless, I am seeing Sirsonic's accusations regarding improper use of funds, but nowhere have I read what money was actually paid out to be declared misused. Funds appear to have been either not wholly utilized due to phases or stages of the project being incomplete, or the the funds frozen, reallocated or redirected. I don't see any indication that warrants statements that funds were mis spent.

If someone has documentation that shows that the M&E was actually paid for work that was never done or that a milestone of the project was paid in advance of the M&E completing that phase of the contract, please put it forth, if not here, at least to the justice officials. Has anyone seen any kind of document that shows what the M&E was actually paid and for what tasks? Considering what all the other rail projects discussed in the various forums are being evaluated at, $10.4M seems grossly underfunded for even repairing the multiple bridges that were on the two lines, much less the actual reworking of the track and grade crossings.

The only real "wrong-doing" was how bad M&E handled the public relations of the whole project.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby cjl330 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:24 pm

Thank you CJPat. Excellent way to sum things up.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby NYSW2300 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:43 pm

It looks really bad when your Motive Power roster and private varnish roster grows every time you receive a stipend from the state for trackage you turned into a storag track.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby cjl330 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:27 am

Hey NYSW2300. Could you please expand on your previous post by listing the dates each "stipend" was paid to the M&E, and the dates the M&E purchased each piece of motive power and each piece of varnish? Thanks.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby myfavscr » Sun Apr 08, 2012 11:36 am

I know it's highly doubtful that this line will ever be reactivated but I figured I'd mention this anyway. Horan Building Supply on W. Westfield Ave. in Cranford has move from that location. I know the RVRR ROW runs through the property. Rumor has it that Cranford is planning to build 30 condo units on the site. Anyone else here anything about it? What affect would it have on the ROW?
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby Ken W2KB » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:29 pm

myfavscr wrote:I know it's highly doubtful that this line will ever be reactivated but I figured I'd mention this anyway. Horan Building Supply on W. Westfield Ave. in Cranford has move from that location. I know the RVRR ROW runs through the property. Rumor has it that Cranford is planning to build 30 condo units on the site. Anyone else here anything about it? What affect would it have on the ROW?


I would expect that any construction would not occur on property not owned by the developer, such as the railroad property. Would be rather difficult for a condo purchaser to obtain title insurance and financing if the condo association did not own the underlying land.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby nyandw » Tue May 15, 2012 9:18 pm

Hi Folks, I have a RVRR website that may be of interest to posters here: http://www.trainsarefun.com/rvrr/rvrr.htm Maps, photos, history, etc.

Image
RVRR freight bound home south of Route 22 entering Kenilworth, NJ Photo: William S. Young used by permission

Image
RVRR #17 crossing Route 22 09/1979 Photo: Alex Moore
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby kilroy » Fri May 25, 2012 12:40 pm

The M&E chose not to renew the right to operate a non-operational rail line. The county still owns the line and if they choose to breath life back into it, the M&E can bid on the contract again.

I don't see what th big deal is. Probably means less paperwork for the M&E.

The NIMBY's may see it as a victory but not that much has changed.
Why do we drive on parkways and park in driveways?
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby nyandw » Fri May 25, 2012 9:44 pm

kilroy » Fri May 25, 2012 1:40 pm "...The M&E chose not to renew the right to operate a non-operational rail line. The county still owns the line and if they choose to breath life back into it, the M&E can bid on the contract again. I don't see what th big deal is. Probably means less paperwork for the M&E.The NIMBY's may see it as a victory but not that much has changed..."

Folks: 1. Why would the (profit/economic reason) M&E chose to reopen this line if there were no barriers to this? 2. Have the NIMBY folks scored a victory or is it not feasible to invest the $$$ required? 3. Is the desire to see the RVRR back in action largely a railfan/historical interest/business interest motive?
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby CJPat » Sat May 26, 2012 6:26 am

Although I was very much in favor of seeing this line refurbished because I thought it had good potential to generate new customers (so did the Union County Freeholders); clearly, I was mistaken. There appears to be several hurdles that hurt the chances of this line:
1. The loss of the Monsanto branch line (factory long gone and the area turned into housing). This was the big customer that kept the RVRR afloat until the end.
2. Loss of interchange points at theformer LVRR both on the RVRR and the SIRR.
3. Inability to obtain an interchange agreement with the NS along the CNJ.
4. Requirement to replace several bridges just to get to the M&E interchange point.
5. Overlooking the fraud allegations, the original $7 Mil grant money would have been inadequate to restore everything. More money would have been required at a time when NJ is and has been financially hurting.
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Re: Official Rahway Valley Thread

Postby kilroy » Tue May 29, 2012 1:31 pm

nyandw wrote:kilroy » Fri May 25, 2012 1:40 pm "...The M&E chose not to renew the right to operate a non-operational rail line. The county still owns the line and if they choose to breath life back into it, the M&E can bid on the contract again. I don't see what th big deal is. Probably means less paperwork for the M&E.The NIMBY's may see it as a victory but not that much has changed..."

Folks: 1. Why would the (profit/economic reason) M&E chose to reopen this line if there were no barriers to this? 2. Have the NIMBY folks scored a victory or is it not feasible to invest the $$$ required? 3. Is the desire to see the RVRR back in action largely a railfan/historical interest/business interest motive?


#1 - The county chose to attempt a reopening of the line. The M&E was the designated operator. The news article was reporting they did not exercise their option to continue operating it.

#2 - There is no money available at this time to complete the reactivation. Whether the original amount allocated was sufficient to do all the restoration work has been debated. The alleged fraud (no trial=no conviction ergo alleged fraud) certainly didn't help.

#3 - At this point it is mostly a railfan thing.
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